Will Nissan's New Self-Driving Chair Usher in a Golden Age of Sloth?


The Nissan ProPilot chair uses autonomous navigational technology to cut down on the need to stand. Nissan Motors
The Nissan ProPilot chair uses autonomous navigational technology to cut down on the need to stand. Nissan Motors

Hey! Do you hate walking? Standing in line? Paying attention to your surroundings? Well, Nissan's got the chair for you!

True, Nissan is a car company, and its 2017 Serena minivan went on the market in Japan  this summer with an autonomous driving function called “ProPilot” that a driver can enable to help them respond to traffic and stay in their lane when they foresee being distracted by what's going on inside the car. But what else are you going to do with autopilot software once it's out there, hopefully keeping people safe on the roads and paving the way for a future of driverless cars?

Nissan's answer? Make self-driving chairs! Nissan has created a seat that can make standing in line at a restaurant both “easy and fun.” Here's the company's video introducing its ProPilot chair:

Although the ProPilot Chair doesn't really give the sitter much choice of where to go, some restaurants in Japan are using them to advance waiting diners along a preset path so they don't have to shuffle forward manually when the party at the front of the line gets seated. The chairs are equipped with cameras to maintain a set distance between them, and when the one in front moves, they all move. When the people sitting in the front of the line stand up, the unoccupied chairs move to the back of the line. It's cool technology, even though it's basically like a less-helpful moving sidewalk.

But Nissan's promotional videos envision a world where these chairs can be used as curatorial aids in museums, shuttling visitors along a pre-established route; as tidying tools, allowing chairs to automatically re-situate themselves after being pushed away from a desk or a board meeting table; or perhaps even as a means to lurch awkwardly along through a park with your friends, which might ultimately prove useful to Japan's rapidly aging population. And perhaps this will prove to be another instance of robots taking jobs from humans, like the homeless hired as placeholders to stand in line for popular restaurants, Congressional hearings and new iPhones.

Either way, it's one step closer to getting what Pixar promised us in “Wall-E”: moving chairs that enable us to spend more time slurping milkshakes and staring at our mobile devices!

The Nissan ProPilot chair uses autonomous navigational technology to cut down on the need to stand.
The Nissan ProPilot chair uses autonomous navigational technology to cut down on the need to stand.
Nissan Motors