Lost drivers soon will be able to Google for help at the pump.
As part of a partnership to be announced today, the online search leader will dispense driving directions at thousands of gasoline pumps across the U.S. beginning in early December.
The pumps, made by Gilbarco Veeder-Root Inc., include an Internet connection and will display Google's mapping service in color on a small screen.
Motorists will be able to scroll through several categories to find local landmarks, hotels, restaurants and hospitals selected by the gas station's owner.
After the driver selects a destination, the pump will print out directions.
Eventually, Gilbarco hopes to make it possible to type in a specific address and get directions.
"We think the service will create more customer loyalty for retailers," said Lucy Sackett, a spokeswoman for the company.
Greensboro, N.C.-based Gilbarco initially will offer the service at about 3,500 gas pumps and expand based on retailer demand. Unlike most of Google's services, this one won't include ads to bring in income. But participating retailers will be able to make extra money from other merchants that offer coupons on the service.
Making maps available at gas pumps appeals to Google because the Mountain View, Calif., company wants to make its services available whenever and wherever people need them, said Karen Roter Davis, a principal business development manager for Google.
Calling up a map at a gas pump should be particularly popular among motorists who are too stubborn or embarrassed to pull over and ask someone for help, Roter Davis said.
"This will be sort of a Googley, more stealthy way of getting directions," she said.