It knows your location by using its camera and by pairing with your smartphone via Bluetooth. It promises obstacle avoidance, has an anti-theft alarm, and sends you data like its weight and location.
The company plans to sell the carry-on luggage in about a year, with an unfinalized price tag of US$400. As checked bags are more tightly regulated, the company wants to avoid that initially, CEO and co-founder Alex Libman tells me at CES.
Smart bags are not new. Bluesmart has a case with location tracking, a battery charger, and travel stats. But I don’t recall seeing a carry-on that actually follows you around.
Nua Robotics has grander plans. It’s trying to integrate its technology with luggage manufacturers. A robotic Samsonite roller? That’s certainly within the realm of possibility.
There are other ways this technology can be used. How about a shopping cart that follows you to the supermarket and back home, filled with groceries? Warehouses might find this an asset too.
However, the price tag is always an issue with new-fangled technology. Not everything with a “smart” label is useful. Yet a self-moving suitcase could be a blessing in times when your hands are full. Plenty of branded bags cost US$400. Why not spend that money on something more practical instead?
Any object that has two wheels, we want it to be smart and robotic.
For able-bodied people, such a device might be frivolous, especially at that price. But it could be essential for the elderly or physically disabled who find lugging a bag an ordeal. Now, if only there’s a way it can climb or descend stairs.
Another issue: passing airport security. With the luggage itself an electronic device, how would an officer deal with it?
Yet if the technology becomes widespread, it’s only a matter of time before it’s accepted. Just like how airlines are coming to terms with having smarphones on planes during takeoff and landing.