This is exactly the kind of people-place where robotics can really get to know people and people can get comfortable with autonomous objects whizzing around them all the time.
Of course, skycaps won’t like the intrusion of passenger baggage moving on its own and TSA agents might be a bit leery of an intelligent suitcase, but the committee for the vaunted James Dyson Award recognized it as ingenious.
Hop, the robot suitcase, is the brainchild of enterprising Spanish inventor, Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez, who, in addition to inventing new-age robo-luggage, has served up the perfect platform for other inventors to jump aboard to develop enhancements for Hop.
The potential add-ons for the robotic suitcase seem limitless: a future add-on might ask the suitcase to nip off to fetch a cup of coffee or to hail a taxi or to do whatever else that makes an airport wait easier or more constructive.
The robotic suitcase follows its owner by tracing Bluetooth signals from a Smartphone. Gonzalez placed three sensors in the luggage that receive signals from the Smartphone and has also planted a microprocessor to drive the two caterpillar tracks which power the suitcase.
Hop website: The same microcontroller operates a caterpillar system based on compressed air, which follows the user at a constant distance.
The bags can be programmed to follow one to another or controlled jointly by the staff that handles baggage at airports or transit stations.
If a suitcase can move by itself, besides facilitating the lives of a large number of travelers, families, or even disabled people, it could also impact baggage-moving conveyor belts, carts or most any sort of external conveyance.
If the signal from the phone is lost, the suitcase will lock itself and send a vibrating alert to the user’s phone.
Gonzalez is hopeful that he will be able to assemble a dedicated Hop development team and also find funding to further the ‘Hop!’ suitcase’s commercialization.
Caveat: He notes that the equipment is not 100% perfect, which means that more time is needed to completely perfect his robot suitcase.