TOKYO — In Japan, where old traditions are constantly being updated with new technology, one inn is making use of automated driving technology to offer the latest in hands-free hospitality — self-driving slippers.
Nissan Motor Co has developed a system for slippers to "park" themselves at the entrance of the traditional ryokan, or inn, at the push of a button, ready for guests to use upon arrival.
Each slipper is equipped with two tiny wheels, a motor and sensors to 'drive' across the wooden lobby floor using Nissan's ProPilot Park technology.
Nissan uses this technology in the latest version of its all-battery electric Leaf vehicle. High-tech sensors and cameras allow the car to locate and back into parking spots without any driver input.
A simplified version of the technology has been installed at the inn, located in the resort town of Hakone, around 75 kilometers (47 miles) southwest of Tokyo and famed for its view of Mount Fuji. Selected guests will be able to experience the technology in March.
"The self-parking slippers are meant to raise awareness of automated driving technologies, and their potential, non-driving applications," Nissan spokesman Nick Maxfield said.
And it is not just the slippers that scurry across the inn's floors. Tatami-matted guest rooms feature floor cushions and traditional low tables that also wheel themselves into place.
Many of the world's top auto brands are developing self-driving technology. Nissan plans to market a car that can drive itself on city streets by 2020.
Nissan will offer a free night at the Ryokan, in Hakone, Japan, for two. Contestants must post on Twitter using the hashtags #PPPRyokan and #wanttostay between Jan. 25 and Feb. 10.
Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu