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LAS VEGAS–The artificially intelligent $800 suitcase that’s also a robot with cameras and GPS tracking is real. It exists.
I just tried it so you wouldn’t have to.
“The suitcase has cameras and sees just like you do,” says Yaxin Guan, the COO of Beijing-based ForwardX, which makes the smart suitcase. “It also has collision avoidance.”
That didn’t stop the luggage from bumping into my leg as the company’s chief technology officer walked the suitcase around a Las Vegas ballroom like a high-tech dog. But only gently as it followed ForwardX CTO Xiayi Chen around the room.
The Ovis suitcase will drive itself at up to 6 mph for four hours or 13 miles, whichever comes first, and will not just follow you but almost walk alongside, much like a dog commanded to heel.
The GPS tracking is optional, but if you are somehow parted from your faithfully following luggage, an anti-loss alarm will sound.
It’s an approved carry-on size, and the actual case itself is manufactured by Tumi, which is well-known for luxury luggage. That’s good, because the kind of people who might spend $800 for a carry-on case are already spending $400-600 on Tumi luggage.
While you might think this is just a luxury toy for 23-year-old nouveaux riche Facebook employees, the company has already sold thousands of Ovis carry-ons.
“We raised $1.4M on Indiegogo last year,” Guan told me. “Half of our owners are frequent flyers … executives, physicians, even retired people.”
ForwardX is not just building luggage, she said. It’s building a technology platform that encompasses computer vision, AI to plan routes and avoid obstacles, and control mechanisms.
A service robot using the tech is already operational in Asia, while a lawn mower is currently in the works for later this year or early next.
Personally, it’s not just a hassle in life to tow my carry-on luggage behind me as I walk through an airport. And, I’m not so desperately in need of the attention of my fellow travelers that I really want them gawking at a suitcase that carries itself.
But it is undeniably cool.
Besides the $1.4 million Indiegogo crowdfunding, ForwardX has also raised $30 million in venture capital. Which means that they’ll likely have other cool products to bring to market soon.
January 7, 2019 at 08:09PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs