Friday, July 22, 2016

Motorized, rideable travel bag gets second bite at the apple

Two Chicago-based entrepreneurs seem to have embraced the proverb, “If at first you don’t succeed try, try again.” This time, it seems to be working.

In mid-2015, Kevin O'Donnell and Boyd Bruner launched what they called a revolutionary new concept in travel: a suitcase that will appeal to tech enthusiasts, savvy travelers and everyday individuals looking to get from Point A to Point B in an efficient, fun and safe manner.

Called the Modobag, it was billed as “[T]he world's first motorized, smart and connected carry-on.”

Riding the Modobag through the airport
Riding the Modobag
The two developers launched a crowd-funding campaign that ultimately failed to raise the $50,000 in development capital they were seeking, but the pair took another stab at it and, mere days after announcing the renewed campaign, their IndieGogo page says the project has surpassed its flexible goal.

So it appears that motorized luggage may indeed be coming soon to an airport near you.

In addition to two USB ports to charge phones and portable electronic devices, and an optional tracking app to track the location of Modobag anywhere in the world, the bag has a Lithium battery-powered electric motor capable of propelling the bag at up to eight miles an hour.

“But I only walk about half that speed,” you say. Not to worry; the Modobag can also carry its owner, provided s/he weighs less than 260 pounds, according to the product’s website, www.modobag.com.

Developers have been developing a prototype, sourcing component parts, fine-tuning CAD blueprints and testing their design, and taking the myriad other steps necessary to launch a new product since early 2015. In addition, O’Donnell "test drove" the Modobag at heavily-trafficked airports, including O'Hare, JFK and LaGuardia.

"From the first-time traveler to the veteran flight attendant, there was widespread agreement that Modobag will help make travel more functional and fun,” O’Donnell said. “Where once travelers had to run through the airport with heavy gear to catch connections they can now get where they need to be on time, on their Modobag."

While Modobag was originally conceived for air travel, usability testing revealed the concept lends itself to more than just travel.

"It helps sales professionals get to appointments. It helps commuters get from home to station to workplace. It helps college students maneuver around campus,” Bruner said. “And it's perfect for the urban day-tripper who wants to get around town without the hassles of cabs, buses or trains."

As with other electrically powered vehicles, its range is limited. In the case of the Motobag, that is six miles – plenty of range to get a traveler between gates in an airport or down a city block.

The Modobag can be ridden or pulled as with conventional luggage
Modobag can be ridden or pulled
However, Modobags are powered by lithium batteries, and the Federal Aviation Administration has limits on the size of the batteries that can be transported by aircraft. In addition, all major U.S. airlines stopped transporting hoverboards just before Christmas last year over concerns about the lithium ion batteries that powered those devices.

I have asked the developers for additional details about that aspect of their product and will update this article when I receive their reply.

Key features of the bag include a ballistic nylon shell with 2000 cubic inches of stowage space, which is 85 percent of space in a standard carry-on. It uses polyurethane composite wheels to ensure smooth transport whether using the motor or the pull-behind option. In addition to its two USB ports, there are cushioned storage compartments for phones and portable electronic devices. And it is designed to be compliant with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requirements.

"Modobag is one of the most innovative and exciting advancements to hit the travel industry since rolling suitcases were introduced in the 1970s," O'Donnell added.

All that innovation and excitement won’t come cheap. The current estimated retail price for the Modobag will be about $1,499. However, the first 500 backers can score a Modobag by pledging $995 through the IndieGogo launch. After the first 500, backers can still snag a Modobag by pledging $1,199.

Some fun video clips along with more information about the Modobag are available at www.Modobag.com.

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.



Photos provided by Modobag
Click on photos to view larger size

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