June 24, 2008 One of humanity's great technological achievements, the wheel has been with us since before recorded history began. For some reason though, it wasn't until the 1980's that the very, very sensible idea of attaching them to a suitcase took-off and the era of "wheelie luggage" began. Technology doesn't rest though, and after just a few decades another pioneering travel innovation has emerged - the power assisted suitcase. Billed as a world first and five years in the making, Live Luggage is set to premiere its power assisted luggage range which uses in-wheel "pancake" electric motors, tilt sensors and an intelligent torque control system to power the wheels when the handle is tilted and pressure is applied - good news for the weary traveler!
The design includes an "anti-gravity" handle that distributes the majority of the bag’s weight over the powered wheels (like a wheelbarrow) for extra efficiency. When pressure is applied to the handle it triggers force sensors at the base, delivering power up only when help is required. Additionally, the tilt switch/sensors only power the wheels when the bag is sloped between 15% and 35%. The idea is that the case won’t run away from you if you if you accidentally drop it.
The PA Series case handles can be adjusted to three height levels and the bag weighs 10.6kg when empty (about 3kg more than an unpowered case of the same capacity according to Live Luggage). The handles are injection molded in a PC ABS material and glass filled nylon, similar to modern day car bumpers, so they are tough and strong enough to handle the rigors of airport transit. There is also an override lock that mechanically cuts the power from the battery and ensures the handle remains in lock mode during travel. Power is from a rechargeable 12V NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) battery pack located inside the base of the case. The battery comes with a charger similar to that of a mobile phone and the suitcase is good for about 1.5 miles carrying 32kg between charges - if the charge runs out it works just like a normal wheeled suitcase.
As an additional free service to customers, Live Locator is a service that helps to reunite you with your luggage, should it get lost in transit. Each piece of Live Luggage is tagged with a laser etched individual serial number. If customers register their luggage, the details are kept in a secure database that can be accessed to alert you in the event that your luggage is lost and then found. The system matches the details from the bag finder with the registration database and then generates an automatic email and text message to you, giving the details entered by the person/company who found your bag.
The PA Series case is available in black for USD$1,365 from the Live Luggage website.