When it's not busy making cars, Nissan spends its time ruminating on highfalutin concepts like connected driving and the fuel station of the future. Thankfully, it's taken a break from these pipe dreams to work on something altogether more worthwhile for humanity: A self-driving queue-busting chair.
The ProPILOT Chair follows on from Nissan's previous revolutionary idea of self-parking chairs. The Intelligent Parking Chair, of course, is able to make offices run more efficiently by cutting out all that wasted time required for workers to push in their chairs after meetings.
As with the Intelligent Parking Chair, the ProPILOT Chair is inspired by one of the firm's other projects. ProPILOT is a so-called "autonomous driving" technology designed to automatically maintain a set distance between a driver's car and the vehicle in front.
The aim of the chair is to take over the task of queueing - for example at a restaurant or hairdresser - so that people can get off their feet, because if there's one thing the modern person needs it's the opportunity to sit more. Plus, taking the potential for human error out of the queueing process may help to eliminate, or at least minimize, the rampant incidence of queueing accidents around the world.
To achieve this, Nissan has installed motorized wheels and a camera into the ProPILOT Chair. The camera is used to monitor the preceding chair in a queue. When the person at the front of a queue leaves their chair, it senses their departure and repositions itself at the back of the queue.
The second chair in the queue is able to detect the newly vacated space and move into it, while each subsequent chair will move forward, in turn maintaining a consistent distance between itself and the chair in front. Ultimately, queuers are delivered to their destination safely and refreshed.
The ProPILOT Chair is being tested between now and the end of December, before a scheduled roll-out at selected restaurants in Japan next year.
The video below shows the chair in action.