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The Autonomous Cowarobot Suitcase is Both Ridiculous and Amazing

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When people think of robotics specialists, they don’t normally think of luggage makers. But San Fransisco-based company Cowarobot is most certainly both of those things.

At CES Asia earlier this year, the brand announced its first flagship product, the Cowarobot R1. Scheduled to ship in November 2016, the product sports minimalistic good looks and a feature your run-of-the-mill Samsonite would faint over — autonomous following with obstacle avoidance. Yeah, that’s straight out of The Jetsons.

Seriously, see it in action:

Photo courtesy COWAROBOT.
GIF courtesy Cowarobot.

So, how does this thing follow you around? There’s an included wristband that looks like a fitness tracker and the R1 locks onto that. The handle packs all the fancy technology, which includes sonar for obstacles avoidance and a depth sensor so it’ll never tumble down a set of stairs. Translation: this thing can seriously see and handle anything.

GIF courtesy COWAROBOT.
GIF courtesy Cowarobot.

With a follow rate of up to 4.5 mph, it’s far from being as fast as Usain Bolt, but it can still hang next to you with ease unless you hit traffic on the way to the airport and find yourself sprinting through the terminal like a mad man. There’s even an adaptive handle that lets you switch between autonomous and manual modes. The R1 also has other bells and whistles, like a secondary storage compartment so you can easily grab your Kindle or iPad, and an embedded GPS so you’ll never lose your gear.

GIF courtesy COWAROBOT.
GIF courtesy Cowarobot.

One of the coolest features included in the R1 is its TSA-approved Co-Smart intelligent locks, where the aforementioned wristband can be used as a keyless remote. The smoothness of it all feels like it’s straight out of a James Bond flick. Also included is a portable power bank, a nice feature to have, but it’s pretty much standard issue with all modern luggage upstarts nowadays, so no biggie there.

GIF courtesy COWAROBOT.
GIF courtesy Cowarobot.

Cowarobot isn’t the only one trying to get into the smart luggage game. NUA Robotics, an Israeli robotics company, is producing a similar solution, though they are roughly a year from going to market. Mashable went hands-on with their solution, which looks far less impressive from both a design and maneuvering standpoint than what Cowarobot is up to in Northern California.

Sure, robotic luggage that follows you around is a little ridiculous and you don’t really need one of these to travel well, but for anyone who ever hit an airport sans carry-on for a day trip realizes how relaxing it is to go completely hands-free when walking to your gate and snagging some fresh reads at the magazine stand. With the R1, you’ll get some strange looks, maybe some impressed glances, but ultimately it’ll likely boost your flying experience in unexpected ways.

You can still snag the R1 for a discounted $499 through Cowarobot’s Indiegogo campaign. The company has racked up more than $300,000 as of this writing with a November ship date on the calendar. After the pre-order window closes, the price will jump to an MSRP of $699 per bag.

Exciting times we live in. Next stop, levitating luggage?

Featured image courtesy of Cowarobot.

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