February 5, 2018
The “robot suitcase” from California-based startup Travelmate can be controlled with a smartphone app
Some of the technologies used in autonomous cars have been adapted in products unveiled at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, to help travelers with the weighty problem of dealing with baggage.
The “robot suitcase” from California-based startup Travelmate can be controlled with a smartphone app and can roll alongside its owner at speeds up to 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) per hour, navigating around obstacles.
“This is really a robot which follows you around,” said Travelmate founder and president Maximillian Kovtun.
Travelmate designed the device — which integrates elements of artificial intelligence — to roll at a pace that matches that of the user, or it can be directed with the smartphone app in the same manner as a drone. Priced at around $1,100, it is slated to roll out in February for the US market, and later in Europe and Japan.
A competing offering from ForwardX, a Chinese startup with offices in California, is designed to be used with facial recognition, without need for a smartphone application.
“It uses computer vision and a driving algorithm to have a clear path,” said founder Nicholas Chee, who showed a prototype at CES. The ForwardX suitcase also has gesture control technology and can be immobilized to protect against theft.
And finally for the weariest of travelers, a luggage product called the Modobag, which lacks artificial intelligence but offers a sizeable perk instead: as a ride-on suitcase which can carry its owner along with their clothes.