Japan tests out 'self-driving chairs' that take the pain out of queuing

TOKYO. KAZINFORM - Tokyo may be home to tens of thousands of great places to eat, yet many diners still have to wait patiently in line for a table at the most popular restaurants - until now, The Guardian reports.

Nissan, the Japanese carmaker, has adapted its autonomous technology to develop "self-driving" chairs that not only enable weary diners to take the weight off their feet, but to zip to the front of the queue without moving a muscle.

Its self-driving ProPilot chair can detect when the spot at the front of the queue is vacated, and automatically moves whoever is second in line to the head of the line.

The empty chair then rolls to the back of the queue and the remaining chairs, and their occupants, glide forward to fill the gap. Nissan uses similar technology in its Serena minivan, which went on sale in Japan in August.

The semi-autonomous vehicle maintains a safe distance from the vehicle in front and stays in the centre of its line, with no action required from the driver.

In a promotional video for the ProPilot chair, diners seated outside a sushi restaurant are moved effortlessly to the front of the queue every time the person at the front is summoned to their table.

The chair, Nissan said, "appeals to anyone who has queued for hours outside a crowded restaurant. It eliminates the tedium and physical strain of standing in line".

Tokyo is home to about 160,000 restaurants, but long queues outside the most popular ones are not uncommon, with some diners willing to wait hours for a seat at, say, a fabled ramen shop.

Nissan hopes to capture the interest of restaurants across Japan and has suggested the technology could be adapted for use in art galleries and on walking tours.

Daniel Hurst, a Tokyo resident who tried out one of the chairs at Nissan's headquarters in Yokohama, wrote on his blog: "They come with footrests to prevent any unwanted friction - although they are missing headrests that would enhance power-napping ability."

Source: The Guardian

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