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Self-Driving Chairs Are Coming

by Gale Felberbaum

There’s no shortage of car companies working on autonomous automobiles. Lyft is planning a subscription service, Tesla has shipped their vehicles with the feature, and Uber currently offers self-driving cabs for folks living in Pittsburgh. You can also count Nissan among these–the company’s ProPILOT tech has appeared in its Serena minivan in Japan since August. But it isn’t just limited to cars. Nissan has brought their ProPILOT tech to an unlikely receiver: chairs.

The ProPILOT chair is Nissan’s gift to line-sitters residing in Japan. Between the dates of September 27 and December 27, you’ll be able to tweet out the hashtag #NissanProPilotChair to try one out. Or, if you happen to run a restaurant, you’ll be able to tweet out #NissanProPilotChair and #Wanted along with your eatery’s name. All for the sake of never standing up again.

Nissan notes the ProPILOT technology allows the car to not only sense how far a car is ahead of it, but also ensures the automobile stays in the center of its lane. Nissan claims the self-piloting software used in the chair is inspired by similar tech found in the car version of ProPILOT. The most popular use of autonomous tech right now is in cars, but the chairs hint at a future where we could see similar tech repurposed for other uses. Along with chairs, drones, robots and other wheeled or winged items could move on their own for the benefit of us humans. Until then you’ll have to wait in line for that new iPhone yourself.

Standing in line for the latest iPhone at the Apple store, queueing for tickets to Wimbledon or even just waiting at the post office might just have got a lot easier.

Japanese car-maker Nissan claims to have just the thing to relieve the sore legs of weary queuers.

The new system of ‘self-driving’ chairs is designed to detect when someone at the front of the queue is summoned, and automatically move everyone else one step forward in line.

The new invention is shown off in a company video, which re-enacts a busy restaurant with patrons waiting outside.

Diners are sitting in a row of chairs, but will not have to stand when the next hungry diner is called to a table.

Instead, the chairs, equipped with autonomous technology that detects the seat ahead, glide along a path toward the front of the line.

When the person at the front of the queue is summoned, the empty chair at the front can sense it is empty and so moves out of pole position.

Cameras on the remaining chairs then sense the movement and follow automatically.

The system, which is similar to the kind used in Nissan’s autonomous vehicle technology, will be tested at select restaurants in Japan this year, Nissan said.

‘(It) appeals to anyone who has queued for hours outside a crowded restaurant: it eliminates the tedium and physical strain of standing in line,’ it added.

Although Tokyo has some 160,000 restaurants, long queues are not uncommon.

Chosen restaurants that fill the logistic criteria will be able to showcase the chairs at their venue.

Nissan also released a short clip showing the chairs being used in an art gallery, moving slowly in front of the various paintings to let viewers appreciate the art without the need to stand up.

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