Japan has long been known for both its strong traditions and being on the cutting edge of technology, and this new inn combining the classic Japanese surroundings with high-tech, self-driving slippers and furniture is a perfect reflection of this.
Nissan Motor Co. developed a system in which slippers park themselves at the entrance of the traditional inn, called ‘ProPilot Park Ryokan,’ waiting for guests to use them upon arrival. When guests have finished using them, the slippers will drive themselves back to their original position. Each slipper features two tiny wheels, a motor, and sensors to drive it across the lobby’s wooden floor using a simplified form of Nissan’s ProPilot Park technology.
The same technology features in Nissan’s all-battery electric Leaf car. High-tech sensors and cameras allow the vehicle to safely back into parking spaces without any input from the driver. Four high-resolution cameras capable of real-time image processing and 12 sonar sensors assess the vehicle’s surroundings. Drivers can utilize breaks if necessary, but ProPilot Park handles the accelerator, braking and steering input when the car is parking. Drivers activate the system with the press of a button, which they must hold down the entire time, unlike the similar but hands-free Tesla Model S. Lifting a finger off of the button will result in the car stopping immediately.
“The self-parking slippers are meant to raise awareness of automated driving technologies, and their potential, non-driving applications,” Nissan spokesman Nick Maxfield said in a statement.
The inn, located in the resort town of Hakone, about 75 kilometers (47 miles) southwest of Tokyo, is currently most famous for its view of Mount Fuji. However, the new self-driving slippers, which will be released by Nissan in March, will likely soon be the defining feature of the high-tech lodge.
In addition to the automated slippers, Tatami-matted guestrooms feature floor cushions and traditional low tables that also wheel themselves back into place after use.
In 2016 Nissan introduced self-driving office chairs that were able to roll back into their places when not being used. 2017 saw the release of ProPilot Park in the Leaf electric car, and the automaker plans to release a self-driving vehicle onto city streets by 2020.