Smart phones. Smart cars. Smart…..luggage? Travelers take note: the days of wheeling you own suitcase around may be numbered.
First, there is Cowarobot. Watch a video of R1, the “fully autonomous smart suitcase,” and all its amazing features. The user controls the unit with a custom bracelet, and you can also track your R1’s location using a smartphone app. It can navigate obstacles and has a “cliff sensor,” allowing it to avoid tumbling down stairs. If needed, you are able to change the robot from autonomous to manual mode. But why do this if the suitcase can follow you at speeds up to 4.5 mph? Cowarobot is already TSA approved and will be shipping next month. The price tag? Only $519. Smart doesn’t come cheap. Not to mention it is only carry-on size.
Then there is Travelmate. This fully autonomous robot suitcase is currently in the fundraising stage (via IndieGoGo, just like Cowarobot), but the developers have already made a great video of it in action. Just like the Cowarobot, the suitcase is paired with a smartphone app, and it allows you to charge your devices from its battery while on the go. The Travelmate’s motion and obstacle sensors will allow it to keep up with your movements, even through crowded, busy airports. It’s price tag? at least $399 in support via IndieGoGo will get you a Model S sometime next year. Travelmate plans to launch a total of 3 different sizes.
Pros and cons of each? Personally, I think Cowarobot has a much classier look, but the wheel design and stability of the Travelmate appear superior. It is hard to tell at this stage because neither have quite hit the market, and there are no reviews. As with any new technology, I would anticipate at least a few problems out the gate.
What I find hysterical is that these two smart suitcases have literally jumped off the pages of a set of science fiction novels that I recently finished: the Quadrail series, by Timothy Zahn. The stories are a mystery-thriller where humans are a fledgling empire among a dozen others, all of which are joined by the enigmatic Quadrail, the only means of traversing the galaxy. The books are written from the perspective of Frank Compton, a witty and adroit investigator whose deductive skills keep him a step ahead of his adversaries. And the reader. Quadrail carrybags are introduced in the first book, and Zahn’s description of them is eerily similar to these being developed. I highly recommend the series.
Now the question is, should I preorder my own Travelmate carrybag?
Images courtesy of the Cowarobot and Travelmate IndieGoGo pages.