Photo Courtesy of NUA Robotics
Carole King was probably not thinking about suitcases when she wrote the song, “Where You Lead, I Will Follow.” Yet a new robotic suitcase currently in development fulfills her lyrics… it will obediently follow you through a busy airport or subway terminal, leaving your hands free to hold a cup of coffee or a wiggly toddler.
The luggage, created by Israeli company NUA Robotics, operates when a sensor inside the suitcase pairs with the camera and Bluetooth connection on your smartphone. Everything is controlled via an app loaded onto the phone. Detection technology enables the suitcase to avoid obstacles as it deftly weaves through traffic, close to your heels. It appears to perform well on flat surfaces, but cannot navigate stairs.
The suitcase, still in the testing phase, boasts many interesting features. Its battery can power other devices such as smartphones, tablets or laptops; recharging itself as it is used. Like other sophisticated suitcases currently on the market, it gives travelers the ability to measure its weight and track its location in real time. An anti-theft alarm can keep someone else from walking off it.
Growing Market for Smart Suitcases
Until recently, the biggest novelty in suitcases was wheels. Today, companies are competing to create high-tech smart suitcases. In a crowdfunding campaign that closed Jan. 2015, Bluesmart raised more than $2 million on Indiegogo. It has sold, and will soon ship, more than 10,000 of its carry-ons. They feature a digitally controlled lock, phone recharging option, and location and trip data tracking. Other firms have followed suit, but the innovative NUA Robotics model is clearly taking it a step further.
Alex Libman, co-founder and CEO of Nua Robotics, hopes his robotic suitcase will be available to consumers within a year. He points out that the technology may have other applications that could be especially helpful for the elderly and disabled. For example: a shopping cart could be configured to follow individuals that might have difficulty pushing it around in a supermarket.
To see a video of the robotic suitcase in action, visit mashable.com.