Automakers have been working on self-driving cars for years. Now they’re using autonomous technology to make household objects move on their own.
From self-lacing sneakers to chairs that park themselves at desks, high-tech conveniences have arrived to eliminate the minutest hassles of everyday life. And now Nissan has unveiled wheeled slippers that — no matter where you leave them — glide across the floor and park themselves at a designated location at the push of a button. Along with self-parking tables, cushions, and remotes, the slippers are available only at the ProPILOT Park Ryokan, a pop-up hotel in Hakone, Japan.
The slippers’ self-parking technology is based on the system in the Nissan Leaf electric car. Unlike the car, however, the slippers can only move back into pre-programmed resting spots when the wall-mounted button is pushed. And they work only inside the hotel, where cameras positioned on the ceiling of the reception area and guest rooms capture images that help the slippers steer around objects to arrive at the desired location.
The slippers are worn normally. But once they’re taken off, a press of the button deploys a set of motorized wheels and sends the slippers back to their resting spot.
At the moment Nissan has no plans to make the slippers commercially available, but who knows what the future could bring?
“We already have household vacuum cleaners based on robotics — why not new applications for this technology?” Dr. Neville Hogan, a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, told NBC News MACH in an email. “I think there might be a huge market for parents of teenage children with messy bedrooms.”