by Michael Cheng
Losing your luggage at the airport can quickly ruin your trip. For peace of mind, some passengers attach luggage-tracking tags to their suitcase or take photos of their bags in case they have to file a missing baggage report. Although useful, these solutions do not ensure that you’ll be reunited with your luggage at the carousel.
For a straightforward approach to baggage-tracking, Travelmate Robotics, a San Francisco-based company, is crowdfunding a suitcase that physically follows you around. Like a faithful pet, it maintains a distance of three to five feet, as you navigate around crowds, browse through books and briskly make your way to your gate. The suitcase does all of this discreetly and autonomously, while maintaining an upright position.
“Suitcases have not really changed for the past couple of decades. It is overdue for innovation,” said David Near, CEO of Travelmate Robotics.
Smartest Suitcase on the Planet
The suitcase is packed with cutting-edge features that can make traveling easier and less stressful. It connects to your smartphone where it uses the signal from the handheld device to keep track of your immediate location. With speeds up to 6.75 mph and omni-wheels, you don’t have to slow down for the suitcase – it is more than capable of matching your pace.
An infrared sensor located around the bag detects obstacles (including signs, chairs and people) and processes information using a built-in system called Follow Me. The program uses machine learning and autonomous movement technology to dodge obstructions, while making sure that other people don’t trip over the suitcase.
In the event the bag gets lost, your phone sends out an alarm (the system triggers a loud notification when the suitcase is more than 15 feet away from the mobile device). The company says the battery lasts up to four hours in tracking mode and up to 100 hours, when used as a regular travel bag. To prevent people from accidentally bumping into the suitcase, a set of LED lights and speakers notifies nearby travelers about its presence. That sounds a bit creepy, actually.
Supporting Busy Lifestyles
Outside of traveling, the Travelmate suitcase can be used to support on-the-go lifestyles. You can use it during long commutes around the city or while walking up and down the aisles of a convention. It’s also perfect for people who carry around a ton of professional gear on a daily basis, such as photographers, gym trainers, artists and engineers. The hard-shell cover allows the luggage to double as a small table, so you could prop up your laptop or feet while waiting for your flight.
“It can carry your stuff for you when you’re going to work, walking to school or rushing to the airport gate. Smart features like omni-wheels and our Follow Me system means that Travelmate is at the cutting edge of AI and autonomous movement technology,” explained the company.
The company is currently in the process of releasing a finalized version of the suitcase. Individuals interested in the product can see a fully working prototype in action on Travelmate’s Indiegogo page.
The bags don’t come cheap. Buyers (or early backers of the campaign) may choose from the following sizes: small ($399), medium ($495) large ($595).