Your bag follows you, or whoever has your mobile phone

It seems like the perfect answer to TSA security madness at American airports. Robot roll-ons that don’t require a third set of hands while you clutch your shoes, belt and travel papers and shuffle toward the sick-o who wants to feel your tackle in case you have stuffed a bomb in your undies.

The latest version of hands free luggage, that follows you using a signal from your mobile phone, looks like a very good idea.

But it depends on battery power to lurch after you, or, the person who has just stolen your communications device as you jostle through an unfamiliar terminal in a distant country after a long flight.  And the lowest weight longest duration source of readily available power for the tiny electric motors that drive the wheels will be lithium or lithium-ion batteries.

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These batteries are a known safety of flight hazard, which have been blamed for or regarded as the highly probable cause of cargo plane crashes, and are supposed to be subjected to strict limitations if placed in checked luggage or carried into cabins.

Let’s think about more than the mild embarrassment of having a phone go off in your pocket in flight, and envisage the day when someone’s roll-on breaks out of an overhead locker searching for the Bluetooth signal source coming from their Samsung or Blackberry.

This is not the first hands free item of luggage. A more industrial looking version received some publicity in the US earlier this year.

The burning question, no let’s say, critical question, is whether the batteries in either would go flat before anyone lost inside Paris CGD or Frankfurt  could make it to the right gate.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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