The clever minds at prestigious Keio University in Tokyo have created a new device that makes the rear seat “disappear” when reversing, and have released a new video demonstrating how, with its help, the sometimes arduous task of reversing into a space could soon become a breeze.
Tinkering around with a modified Toyota Prius, the university’s graduate research team have been putting their latest technology through its paces by having a driver with a particular fear of reverse parking give the maneuver a shot both with and without the device installed…
Keio University was established in 1858 in an old manor house in Tsukiji, Tokyo- a town that many readers will know as the location of the famous Tokyo fish market where much of the nation’s seafood arrives and is auctioned off, sometimes for incredible prices.
The university boasts that it is the oldest tertiary education institute in the country, and has come to be known as the location where many elite students further their education, and are often marked for great things thereafter.
This week, the Keio University Graduate Research Institute unveiled an interesting new device this week that they say makes the rear of the car disappear.
But what does that mean exactly? Take a look for yourself in this video:
The driver, referred to in the video as a “paper driver” since she holds a valid licence but does not actually drive (you’d be surprised how many people like this live in urban areas!), admits that she has trouble reversing into parking spaces…
But she’s precisely the kind of driver the institute need to test out Keio’s new gadget!
After a quick spin around the parking lot to ensure that the driver, Ms. Takahashi, is not about to career off the road and mow a few passing students down, it’s time to try reserving into a spot marked out by rows of blue plastic cones. Turning to look over her shoulder, Ms. Takahashi extends a finger to push a small button on the pre-installed. “Wow, that’s amazing!” she exclaims.
While no part of the car itself changes- even though some of us were hoping for some Transformers-esque metallic mutations- something kind of cool happens inside the vehicle.
What we can see here is the small tablet computer-sized screen fitted just behind the driver, between the driver and passenger seat.
At the top of the image, we can clearly see the inside of the car, but on the screen, it’s as if we’re looking directly through of the back of the vehicle. Shopping, kids, sports gear, dogs; whatever’s in the back seat seems to vanish and the driver can clearly see what is directly behind the car.
If someone is standing behind the car, for example, we can clearly see their body on the screen, while their top half appears in the rear window.
The effect is kind of freaky, but could no doubt prove to be hugely helpful to drivers who struggle with this maneuver.
Let’s see the device put to the test!
First, Ms. Takahashi attempts a reverse park into a bay without the help of the rear seat invisibility unit..
▼Is anyone else glad that she’s a “paper driver” and not out there smashing into real cars?
OK, so we know that she’s not kidding when she says backing into spaces isn’t her speciality.
But will an “invisible” back seat really rescue her from a life of flattening slow-moving pensioners and scratching up sports cars? Let’s find out!
Looking over her shoulder and into the seemingly transparent pane of tinted glass, Ms. Takahashi is able to see the street behind the vehicle.
There’s a moment during the maneuver when she looks like she’s about to hit a cone, but, thanks to the magical screen, she’s able to adjust the position of the car.
I think we could call that a success, couldn’t we!?
No word yet on when the device will find its way into road models, but knowing Japan’s love for technology, it can’t be far away.
Although devices like rear-mounted cameras alreay exist, the current models require the driver to focus their attention on a dash-mounted screen, meaning that they are left completely unaware of the area they are reversing into besides that which is shown on the screen. Keio University’s new toy means that drivers can turn their attention to the rear of the vehicle entirely, meaning that the whole process of backing into a space suddenly becomes much safer for people like you and me who might otherwise find ourselves trapped behind cars being driven by Ms Takahashi here.
“But why back into a space at all?” I hear you cry, ever so softly. “Couldn’t these people just park front-end first?”
Well, in Japan it’s considered polite (of course!) to reverse into parking spaces rather than reverse out of them when you leave. While you might think that this takes longer to do, since backing into a space is far trickier than reversing back into a larger area, the idea is that, by backing in rather than out, we’re less likely to cause an accident by colliding with passing traffic or people when we leave.
And thanks to the clever boys and girls at Keio University, we might all be doing it a little easier very soon…