Thursday, December 13, 2018

Meet the robot suitcase likened to a sherpa, ballerina and R2D2

In 1946, Italian car manufacturer Piaggio created the iconic Vespa scooter.

Some 70 years on and its US offshoot, Piaggio Fast Forward, has come up with something equally hip and revolutionary on two wheels.

It’s a small, powder-blue robot suitcase that follows you around and carries your baggage. 

Gita, the Italian word for outing, can hold 18kg and has been described as “like a friendly R2D2 with more cargo space”.

Piaggio is putting a dozen or so Gitas to work in pilot projects around America, doing things like guiding people through airports. It hopes to be manufacturing the robots commercially by 2019.

Gita owners need only put on a wearable electronic toolbelt (eventually envisaged to become the size of a smartphone) and the robot will follow them around at the distance of around a metre.

The bot chases as they walk or bike and can hustle as fast as 35 kilometres per hour.

It’s cargo hold can be locked with a fingerprint and the Gita can be parked outside where it’ll wait for its owner to return, or rolled up ramps and taken inside.

It goes with you, turns with you and stops with you. A wireless connection to a stereoscopic camera on the belt lets it map its surroundings, better enabling it to trail its owner around street corners or through doors. Cameras on every side help it map the world and avoid obstacles.

Its two tyres and large tipped-over-cylinder design mean it has zero turning radius. As co-founder Jeffrey Schnapp boasts: “It can do little ballerina pirouettes.”

Gita’s job, simply put, is to carry stuff.

Schnapp likens it to a sherpa or pack mule, but Gita does have its limits.

It may only be handy for staycations in the near future as it is unclear if the two-foot-high two-wheeler will be allowed on planes.

About Kate Jackson

Kate Jackson
Kate Jackson is the editor of Accomnews. You can reach her at any time with questions or submissions: [email protected]

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