Luggage technology has not changed much over the last few decades, but there is one San Francisco startup that is aiming to bring innovation to the industry. TravelMate Robotics has created a smart suitcase called the TravelMate that follows you wherever you go. And you can control the TravelMate settings with your smartphone.
The TravelMate has a GPS chip so you can track it if it gets lost and it has a USB port for charging your devices. The battery life is about four hours (fully autonomous mode), but you can hold it like a regular suitcase after that. There are a number of sensors built into the TravelMate so it will not bump into obstacles and the wheels lock up if an unauthorized person takes it. And it can roll flat or upright.
There are a number of other sophisticated features built into the TravelMate. You can say “stop” or use hand-based commands. A digital scale can tell you how much the TravelMate weighs. And you can lock/unlock the TravelMate with your fingerprint. Another great feature is the ability to name the suitcase (“follow me Mr. Luggage”). The LED turning signal lights aren’t too shabby either. The maximum speed of the TravelMate is 6.75 miles per hour. And in future versions of the smart suitcase, TravelMate plans to add a voice assistant for booking tickets and locating restaurants.
To gain a better understanding of the TravelMate, I interviewed TravelMate Robotics CEO David Near. Near told me he has been traveling his entire life and has been working in robotics for more than six years. While working with robots, Near was always looking for practical situations hence the smart suitcase.
When I asked Near if there have been any regulatory hurdles in creating the TravelMate, he said “Travelmate is fully compliant with TSA regulations and FAA specifications. In addition, we’ve been in contact with international agencies to make sure that Travelmate complies with their requirements.” Plus many agencies have contacted TravelMate to ensure that what the company is doing complies with their standards, including advice for internal components. For example, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) provided battery compliance requirements.
And Near pointed out that some airports even want TravelMate Robotics to develop airport trolleys for them based on its autonomous technology. This project is currently in development, which could be very exciting for the aviation industry.
When I asked Near about customer feedback, he said it has been incredible to interact with customers in order to improve your product. One of the features that was developed due to customer feedback is the ability to have the TravelMate to follow you in multiple positions instead of just one.
Near also told me that Travelmate will be expanded into a multi-purpose gadget with potentially thousands of new features. More features that are being developed include making the TravelMate a security robot to monitor and provide alerts about any disturbances while you are not at home.
And Near added there is a plan to use TravelMate as a health monitoring device. The TravelMate could send medical data to your doctor so you would not have to wait for an appointment to diagnose certain health issues. For example, it could alert your doctor if your blood pressure is too high or if your heartbeat is abnormal. Plus the TravelMate app is open to developers so other companies can create interesting new features.