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TECH: Nissan Brings You The Autonomous Chair

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While everyone else is busy designing autonomous cars, Nissan is taking a closer look at your chair. The typical chair doesn’t do much of anything but sit there until you move it around. If you’re lucky, then it has wheels to make the job easier. Nissan is taking it a step further with the ProPilot Chair.

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This isn’t some prototype gimmick, and it’s not an April Fool’s joke a few months off schedule. It’s a real product that you will soon see rolling around on its own in Japan. Don’t think of this as some fancy new wheelchair. This is a powered chair designed for specific applications.

These chairs follow each other in a tidy line the same way autonomous cars do on the highway. ProPilot already exists in cars in Japan. It’s a feature you’ll find on their Serena minivan and it’s been available since August.

The ProPilot chair takes the idea of following the next car in line and applies it to the next chair in line. Instead of having to stand and wait, the ProPilot lets people sit and wait while their chair slowly edges forward to keep the line moving along.

The idea works anywhere people have to wait in a line, and it’s not something that requires special skill to operate. It’s also not the first time Nissan has taken its tech and applied it to your chair.

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Nissan made a self-parking chair earlier this year. The Intelligent Parking Chair is activated by clapping, at which point it spins around and tucks up under the nearest desk. It’s the kind of thing that makes cleaning up the office conference room a breeze.

The ProPilot will be testing in the real world from September 29 through December 27. Japanese restaurants can apply to be a part of testing simply by tweeting their info along with the hashtags #NissanProPilotChair and #Wanted. You might find your wait for a table in Japan less taxing your favorite restaurant is part of the test program.

Even if you don’t find a restaurant with the ProPilot chair, there’s still a chance to give them a whirl. Nissan’s Global Headquarters in Yokohama, Japan will have a display with six of the chairs from September 29 through October 2. Visitors will be able to test them out in a simulated queue.

No, we’re not getting them in the US right now, but who knows? If they become a hit, then maybe Nissan’s big news at the next auto show will be its latest chair instead of its latest car.

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Nicole Wakelin

Nicole Wakelin