Forget Self-Driving Cars – These self-driving slippers are the future

Nissan might not be your first thought when it comes to footwear, but you might change your mind when you see the automaker’s self-parking slippers. Nissan recently developed a system for slippers to “park” themselves at the entrance of a traditional Japanese inn at the push of a button.

It is very clear that Nissan isn’t intending to get into the slipper business, self-parking or otherwise. The gimmick – along with robotic tables and floor cushions – is to highlight the autonomous parking technology it’s offering in cars like the new Nissan Leaf. Dubbed ProPILOT Park, it allows the driver to have the car move itself into a free space.

Nissan is also working working on a fully-autonomous vehicle, the system uses much of the same sensor suite and algorithms. It’s one of a handful of semi-autonomous driver assistance aids – including things like adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, and auto-steer – that’s expected to gradually ease car owners into trusting their vehicles to get them from a particular place to another.

According to Nissan the goal was “to entertain guests and reduce staff workload”, but it mostly seems geared toward selling the all-electric, semi-autonomous Nissan Leaf — the 2018 version of which was released late last year. “The self-parking slippers are meant to raise awareness of automated driving technologies, and their potential, non-driving applications,” a Nissan spokesman told Reuters.

This is not the first time Nissan attempt such thing. Back in 2016, the company made an oddly enchanting set of self-driving office chairs, which were able to automatically shuttle back to their respective desks when not occupied. Nissan called them the Intelligent Parking Chair, and used a simple “clap to reset” trigger to send them scurrying.

In performance vehicles, the same B2V technology could be used to give a sports car’s systems a heads-up that the driver is going to act. By identifying signs that they’re about to turn the wheel, for instance, the car’s driver-assistance technology could begin that process a split-second beforehand. Nissan says that it can shave anything up to half a second off, without the driver themselves realizing the car is stepping in.

Shashank Tiwari

Shashank Tiwari is a writer from India and the Tech Explained editor. In his free time he dabbles in fiction, photography, and game development.

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