Nissan used the Champions League Final in Kyiv to unveil its latest product development, a self-driving football-pitch drawing robot called Pitch-R.
Pocket-lint were told before the unveiling that the Japanese car manufacturer had been looking at ways to transition its self-driving technology into the world of football. We were scratching our heads for a while wondering what on earth the company could possibly do, but even with all the crazy ideas running around in our head, we never expected the Pitch-R to be the result.
Using Nissan's ProPILOT technology that can be found on the 2018 Leaf and the Qashqai (and is part of the overall Intelligent Mobility suite of technologies), the Pitch-R uses a four-camera vision system, GPS tracking and collision avoidance systems to draw either a 5-, 7- or 11-a-side football pitch wherever there is space.
Lines can be painted on grass, tarmac or gravel and environmentally-friendly paint is always used so the lines eventually fade away.
While it may be smart, it's not totally independent as you do still need to be there to actually find a suitable space first. Maarten Sierhus, Director of Research at Nissan's Silicon Valley Research Centre believes that no autonomous system will ever be able to work without any sort of human input at all. Once you think you have a patch of land, the Pitch-R will scan it to make sure it can be used and then it will set to work.
The final pitch will be to the exact dimensions of any professional football pitch and thanks to its GPS tracking, lines will be super-straight. Nissan sees the Pitch-R being used by whole communities, rather than small local football clubs, as it won't be cheap when it does launch. A price hasn't been set yet, but it is in the final stages of development.
Roel De Vries, Nissan’s corporate vice president for marketing and brand strategy said: "The UEFA Champions League features the best footballers in the world,"
"But all those star players started out like every kid – using jumpers for goalposts and chalk to mark lines wherever they could find open space to play the game they love."
Jean-Pierre Diernaz, Nissan Europe’s vice president for marketing, added: "That’s the passion which drove our design and engineering team to create Pitch-R. It injects the best of Nissan technology into an innovation which can benefit grassroots football, and excite and engage young fans."
Nissan has also said that the Pitch-R is just the first in a series of prototypes it is developing, and plans to reveal information regarding new ones during the 2019 Champions League season.