Nissan Develops Self-Driving Chair to Promote Its Self-Driving Cars

September 30, 2016 Updated: September 30, 2016

Nissan Motor Corp. found a creative marketing solution to promote its self-driving technology, the ProPilot system. The Japanese carmaker developed prototypes of self-driving chairs that automatically wait in line and move along a set path.

The chairs reduce the hassle of standing in line for customers. And they could be used outside crowded restaurants.

“The ProPilot chair detects and automatically follows the chair ahead of it, maintaining a fixed distance and travelling along a set path,” Nissan stated in a press release.

Inspired by the Serena minivan, the chairs are based on Nissan’s first car equipped with the self-driving technology. It was launched in August.

“These are technologies showcasing our new emerging technology to promote ProPilot and steps towards autonomous driving vehicles,” said Joshua Clifton, spokesperson of Nissan North America Inc.

Nissan plans to send demos to restaurants in 2017, but doesn’t yet have a fully developed business plan. 

“Between now and December 27, restaurants across Japan can apply to use the chairs by tweeting their name and web page along with the hashtags #NissanProPilotChair #Wanted,” the company announced.

In the car, the ProPilot system is designed for highway use in single-lane traffic. The technology aims to ease driver workload, especially in heavy highway traffic. It allows the car to follow the car in front and stay centered in a lane. Nissan plans to offer lane-change capability, similar to what Tesla offers now, in 2018.

Nissan sells 60 models under the Nissan, Infiniti, and Datsun brands. The company sold more than 5.4 million vehicles globally, generating revenue of 12.19 trillion yen ($121 billion) in 2015.

The Japanese carmaker announced disappointing results in the U.S. market in August. Sales decreased by 6.5 percent year-on-year to 124,638 units due to weak demand for its Altima, LEAF, Pathfinder and Infiniti QX60 models.

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