Ride-on bags and self-driving luggage with remote controls - this is the luggage of the future
IN THE TOMORROW of our best hopes, human emancipation will have been achieved by a fully automated, luxury communism that will see the lucky souls of the future spending their days painting watercolours or playing badminton while robots take the strain. When that generation looks back to these millennial days they will see the first signs of the liberation: hydroponic tomato farming, driverless cars, algorithms that diagnose diseases.
Will they, I wonder, include smart suitcases on this list? Perhaps not. And yet, then again, perhaps nothing could be more geek or more fun in the travel world right now. Among the first lot of these, the most elegant is the Raden, a sleek range of cases from the designers behind Dr Dre's Beats headphones. Each one comes with a battery pack and USB ports for on-the-road mobile phone pick-me-ups. But the neatest trick is an in-built digital scales that allows you to weigh the bag just by picking it up.
Also easy on the eye is the Rimowa Electronic Tag range, which has an integrated display screen that syncs with your smartphone. That the bag saves you the time it takes ground staff to print you a luggage label won't rank it alongside the washing machine in terms of labour-saving devices, but still, the digital display adds a futuristic flourish.
Best, however, is the Bugaboo Boxer range, which dispenses with digi-gimmickry in favour of a modular system that combines interlocking stow, carry-on and day luggage. At the wackier end of the market is the Modobag, a motorised suitcase you can ride. With a top speed of 8mph, it is, effectively, a turbo-charged Trunki which, if you're an adult, makes for an ungainly ride.
Similarly revolutionary (i.e. not very) is the self-piloting Cowarobot which has sensors to detect obstacles so it can trundle along beside you like an entry-level R2-D2. This, and the bracelet you wear to control it, serves only to remind you that, for all that the brilliant minds of San Francisco have changed our lives, they've an uncanny knack for creating solutions to things that weren't a problem in the first place.