A car that drives itself and a chatty sat-nav capable of carrying on a conversation with the driver are some of the glimpses of tomorrow on offer at a gadget fair near Tokyo.
The Cutting-Edge IT & Electronics Comprehensive Exhibition threw open its doors on Tuesday to thousands of visitors eager to sample gizmos they will be using in future.
But the highlight of the tech fair for many is Japanese carmaker Nissan, which showcased self-driving cars that allow the driver to sit back and take their eyes off the road.
A series of sensors constantly monitors the road and objects nearby, turning the wheel automatically to avoid obstacles.
“Most accidents are caused by human error.”
Automakers are working to integrate cars and houses, with the vehicle able to power the home - especially useful in times of blackouts caused by natural disasters.
Honda is showing off a mock installation in which a motorcycle powers a gigantic kettle.
Honda president Takanobu Ito said: “Welcome to the future garage that Honda has designed. This is how automobiles and communities will be connected.”
Augmented reality is a big theme at the fair in Chiba, with Pioneer showcasing new navigation systems that can direct drivers to vacant parking spots with signs that appear in front of them.
“You have driven for a long time.”
Car electronics maker Clarion has a chatty sat-nav capable of carrying on a conversation with the driver, and reminding him or her to take a break.
“How about a cup of coffee? There is a nice cafe nearby that offers tasty sweets,” it says.
The system, powered by Google, also finds restaurants by price bracket, offering up suggestions when the driver tells it: “I would like a place where I can have lunch for ¥1000 (R102).”
More than 580 companies are taking part in the trade show, which has brought exhibitors from 18 countries and territories. The show runs until Saturday. - AFP