Robotic suitcase COWAROBOT R1, which autonomously follows its owner, launched on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo on Tuesday. The campaign has already completed 93% of its $100,000 campaign.
“Robotics and artificial intelligence are really hot topic these days, both on the investment side and the business side. However, it’s difficult to bring them into our lives,” founder and CEO of COWAROBOT, Tommie He, told TechNode.
“By using reliable sensing, controlling and AI techniques, we develop robots that can really help to improve our lives.”
COWAROBOT R1 adds robotics technology to traditional luggage. It is able to sense and monitor its surroundings in real time. Based on what it ‘sees,’ the robot will find the optimal path to walk with its owner. With an early bird price of $429 USD on Indiegogo and retail price of $699 USD, the robotic luggage can go up inclines as steep as 15 degrees, but is best used on flat and smooth surfaces.
The robotic luggage comes with an app that lets users control smart locks, record and share their luggage’s traveling path, and monitor the status of the suitcase in case it gets lost. The portable battery is inserted into the luggage and charges both the suitcase as well as external devices via USB.
“I visited most of the biggest luggage manufacturers are in Shenzhen, Dongguan and Taiwan, and found that they lack in R&D ability and were not willing to make big changes to their luggage,” Mr. He said.
“At first we wanted to co-work with them. But we soon realized that it’s impossible, so we did by ourselves.”
While hardware companies based in Shenzhen usually find local manufacturing partners to cut costs, COWAROBOT’s R&D and manufacturing units are based in Shanghai, with another office in San Francisco for distribution, marketing and branding.
Some companies are also coming up with their own smart luggage solutions including Bluesmart, Trunkster, and Andiamo iQ. COWAROBOT says they excel in detailed functions such as smart locking, portable power banks, and a one-push opening lid.
Mr. He hails from the Hirose Fukushima Robotic Lab, with a background in robotics and connected cars. After working in Japan and the US, he came back to China to focus on robotics.
“[COWAROBOT] focuses on building intelligent mobile service robots, that can help users to complete… tasks in human [daily] life,” Mr. He says.
In the future, Mr. He aims to build other mobile robot-based hardware focusing on autonomous mobility, hinting at a possible AI-enabled “a passenger companion robot.”
Image Credit: COWAROBOT