Home » Electric Ride-On Suitcases Exist Today, But Not One With Handling By Lotus

Electric Ride-On Suitcases Exist Today, But Not One With Handling By Lotus

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“Everything that can be invented has been invented.” Apparently this 1899 quote from US Patent Office director Charles H. Duell is something that he never actually said, but it’s still a statement that I occasionally think is true.

For example, a few days ago the staff was on Slack lamenting the challenges in attempting to purchase the hot new Honda Motocompo scooter. When the staffers began to mention how the skinny seat was a bit uncomfortable, I imagined a wider base “box,” which I then imagined to be a carry-on piece of luggage.

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I thought that I had invented the world’s first motorized ride-on suitcase. In this lazy world, I figured I’d either be a rich man now or that the idea would get me thrown in the asylum. Sadly, Mercedes Streeter immediately informed me that such objects already exist. Even my kids knew about them. Here’s the first one that Google spit back at me:

Suitcase 1
Airwheel

Actually, there are a fair number of these powered suitcase things out there offered on Amazon and such, all with different designs such as vertical-riding cases or lower profile layouts:

Suitcase 2
Amazon, WalMart.com

 

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One of the better known ones that Mercedes Streeter told me about is the Modobag. Modobag is a motorized carry-on sized bag that can carry a rider up to 260 pounds; if you’re around 180 pounds or less you could reportedly see a range of over six miles after a full two-hour charge. There’s USB ports to charge your accessories so you aren’t going to be sitting on the floor at the airport amongst Cinnabon wrappers while your laptop charges at the only free wall outlet that you could find.

Modobag 2
Modobag

Top speed is reportedly around seven miles an hour, and there’s an “indoor” mode where full throttle maxes out at about four miles an hour. Currently, the Modobag has had a price drop from around $1500 down to under $1000, so it’s almost like a competitor for the hard-to-obtain Motocompo if you mentally squint a bit.

We can talk about these specifications all we want, but as an Autopian you likely have one question: how does it handle? Honestly, you don’t need to be our resident engineer Huibert Mees to know the answer to that question, which is “poorly.” It’s obvious that something so skinny with a high center of gravity and without the ability to lean will handle terribly. It’s like when people ask me what our Land Cruiser/LX570’s handling is like. I tell them that it has no “handling” at all.

Obviously, a performance ride-on suitcase is needed. There is no machine that moves under its own power that we Autopians would not want to make faster and able to go around corners better. To develop such a super-suitcase would require the assistance of sports and race car engineers, and I have just the place to look for them. What about a company that built cars that won Formula One World Championships a total of seven times? A firm that made some of the best handling street cars in history? I’m talking about Hethel’s own Lotus. Yes, that Lotus; I want them to develop the ride-on suitcase equivalent of this old lime green Elise:

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Motor Car Classics

Would Lotus cars really work on some single-passenger plastic thing that will max out at barely over the pace of a kid’s Power Wheel toy? Actually, they’ve done it already. Back in the mid-1980s, computer entrepreneur Clive Sinclar developed an ill-fated tiny one-person scooter vehicle for urban transportation called the Sinclair C5. Despite being something that wasn’t a race car and not really even a car at all (and something you could pedal if power ran out) the Sinclair team hired Lotus to develop the chassis.

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Sinclair C5 Brochure 2
The Autopian

According to Dale Rodney’s The Sinclair Story, the little trike actually had no suspension at all, relying on the torsional flex of the chassis; a very Lotus-like keep-the-weight down solution. The C5 was powered by what the press dubbed a “washing machine motor,” but in fact was a part of a truck cooling fan. Lotus developed the drive system with an axle that came from a concept they had created for an automotive steering column. There is footage of Ayrton Senna driving a black-and-gold John Player Special liveried C5 around the pits in period – I would say “racing around,” but with a top speed of about 15 miles an hour, that wouldn’t be a proper use of the term.

Our “sports carry-on” would be called the Lotus E’Case, a machine faster than any other piece of motorized luggage you dare line up against it for a drag race to Gate 27. The key to the success of the E’Case would be the ability to offer a far wider track and longer wheelbase than any of the competition. I envision Lotus engineers developing fold-out “arms” that hold the four wheels as far as possible from the main case. The two arms in the rear have motors built in, since we had one front-wheel drive Lotus already and we don’t necessarily need another one.

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Wikimedia/ Bebiezaza

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Note that the front arms hold the wheels further apart than the rear ones so that you’ll get a layout similar to a Polaris Slingshot (and not a Reliant Robin). This also provides a space for the rider’s feet to go. The fold-up handlebars are connected to a tie rod with pins that click into holes on steering rods inside each front arm. Also, like the chassis of the Sinclair C5, the wheel-arms would be rigid but still have enough torsional flex to act as a suspension and even allow for some lean in turns. In typical Lotus fashion, the engineers would create that perfect mix of ride and handling that Lotus is so skilled at doing.

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Unlike some of the current ride-on cases, I’d like to make the E’Case bag be detachable from the chassis in case you just don’t feel like driving around on it today and would prefer not to have the extra weight to carry around. Not to mention the fact that you could service the running bits and still have the case; “Lotus” no longer really stands for “Lots Of Trouble, Usually Serious” but I’m not taking any chances.

Also, the E’Case has a small “dashboard” with warning lights, USB outlets, controls, a range gauge that doubles as a charge gauge, and a keypad to unlock the case and the motor.

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Top speed? Range? Who really knows, but I am assuming it won’t be fast enough to need brakes at least. Still, there ain’t no slowing down for turns on a suitcase that bears Colin Chapman’s initials.

You’ve been warned, air travelers. If you’re gunning for the gate on your electric powered ride-on suitcase, trying to be the first to get on stand-by, pray to God that no one else who wants your seat is operating a green and yellow bag like the E’Case. Until Ferrari tries to get into the market, I promise can promise you this: you’ll lose.

Relatedbar

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E-Bikes Have Been Around A Lot Longer Than You Might Think – The Autopian

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Vanillasludge
Vanillasludge
4 months ago

Looking forward to the new toilet by Lotus. Low to the ground and able to handle a post pizza-party blowout on half the water.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
4 months ago

Lotus already did a ride on suitcase. Google for “Lotus F1 Trunki”.

They saved weight by not fitting a motor, and saved dignity by making it for kids.

Fix It Again Tony
Fix It Again Tony
4 months ago

The problem is that it looks like everyone tries to do this with a carry-on. It wouldn’t look as stupid with a full size suitcase.

OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
4 months ago

Except this would have to be checked luggage and airlines aren’t super keen on lithium-ion batteries in the cargo hold.

Millermatic
Millermatic
4 months ago

Now someone needs to design one that doesn’t make you look like a complete idiot riding it…

SNL-LOL Jr
SNL-LOL Jr
4 months ago

On a phone, the cover photo looks like Jacinda Ardern riding a… certain device.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
4 months ago

There were actually several companies, selling self propelled suitcases a few years ago, but the airlines shut them down by not allowing the batteries on their planes. Some of them are really cute. They would follow you around or rather follow your Bluetooth enabled device around.

Bearddevil
Bearddevil
4 months ago

I feel like this wouldn’t be that hard to achieve by dismembering one of the better electric skateboards and smooshing the guts into a suitcase. The only real novel fabrication would be the fold out arms on the chassis for the front wheels.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
4 months ago

Come on! You missed the most obvious and best name for this: Lotus Valise.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
4 months ago

I assume motorized luggage functions as luggage? Does this overpowered hot wheels rig work as a suitcase as well?

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
4 months ago
Reply to  The Bishop

Thanks your holiness I just missed the mention of it. And of course the pics were of a far different product. So it fits in the overhead as required size? Otherwise you can’t use it in the airport.

Collegiate Autodidact
Collegiate Autodidact
4 months ago

Most likely there are earlier iterations of ride-on suitcases but there’s one, with a pretty untenable knees-up seated riding position, in a 1988 feature film, The Wizard of Speed and Time, based on a short film from 1979. The feature film is not at all readily accessible for watching due to some legal morasses involving copyrights, distribution rights, etc, plus its anti-union sentiment is off-putting to many people, but overall it’s a fun watch and its ride-on suitcase scene is indeed a memorable one.

Chronometric
Chronometric
4 months ago

I met Jittlov during a screening at DragonCon in the ’80s. I agree, Mike and the film are fantastic.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
4 months ago

I have seen ride on coolers that performed better. Is there a difference?

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
4 months ago

Didn’t Jason cover this before?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mazda_Suitcase_Car

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
4 months ago
Reply to  The Bishop

Agreed, needs electrification, then you could fit your toothbrush. But that layout would handle!

MrLM002
MrLM002
4 months ago

Generally rolling bags in general have such little wheels they’re hardly usable on sidewalks and such, and generally speaking this applies to motorized and non motorized “ride on” suitcases. Because of that I’d rather just have a backpack. It’s too bad G-RO didn’t work out, wheeled luggage really only is practical with big wheels.

Scott
Scott
4 months ago

My tailbone hurts just imagining riding any of these (even the MotoCompacto) on anything but glass-smooth surfaces. But I’m old, sore, and grumpy so don’t go by me. 😉

Kudos Bishop on pushing the front wheels way out, and getting a bit of compliance from flex of the struts (as well as much-needed lateral stability). It’d probably be too complex/space consuming/costly to actually incorporate swingarm mechanisms to get a more compliant ride, but bendy carbon fiber reinforced plastic or aluminum alloy might help take the edge off smaller bumps/seams on the floor.

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
4 months ago

Lotocompo!

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
4 months ago

1) Slow case fast?
2) a week after release, some lovable idiot is going to shoehorn a Predator engine in one

Scott
Scott
4 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

I was thinking Hayabusa actually. 😉

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
4 months ago
Reply to  Scott

You have my full support—but imma stand behind & to the side if you don’t mind

Jonathan Hendry
Jonathan Hendry
4 months ago

Unfortunately the Lotus mantra isn’t “Simplify, then add dignity”

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
4 months ago

My wife wanted to buy two similar things for the kids, I was like no way, we have legs and can walk. Most people walk 3-4mph and can briskly walk 5-7mph, so they are as fast as walking. Is society that lazy? I can’t wait for a drive-thru at the airport Starbucks for idiots on these things. I will start carrying toothpicks to throw on the floor to cause people on these things to topple over.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

I have bad knees and a brisk run through an airport to catch a flight can ruin my day, and possibly an entire vacation. If I still traveled a lot, I would seriously consider one of these. The laziness part is just a bonus.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
4 months ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

Wheelchair assistance is the answer, free service, just give them a tip.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

But motorized suitcase.

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

Sorry, but paying a gratuity for mobility service for a person who is otherwise disabled and needs it is repugnant.

It should be free to those who need it, period, and subsidized by the extra airport fees we all have added to our fares.

Last edited 4 months ago by UnseenCat
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
4 months ago
Reply to  UnseenCat

It is free. The tip is up to you.

Jonathan Hendry
Jonathan Hendry
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

Yes but can your legs burst into flame while charging or possibly even in the overhead compartment? I think not. Advantage: electric suitcase.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

“Is society that lazy?”

Yes, yes we are. Its one of the reasons why China will own us before the century is out.

Well, that, and the historical dialectic

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
4 months ago

When I saw the headline, my brain went an entirely different direction.

With handling by Lotus, it should be low and wide, not top heavy!

So how about a carry-on sized roller bag that splits like a suitcase. One side is the base with wheels and the power/drive unit. The handle part slides out in front for a footrest and the mount for the front wheels. The other half of the suitcase forms a backrest. Maybe with a slide out headrest.

When you unfold it and sit on it, now you’re in a low slung luggage based race car! Blast through that airport at above running speed, taking corners like you’re at Spa or Monaco! You arrive at your gate in plenty of time and fresh as a daisy!

The only down side is if the airport is crowded, people may not see you down there. But with handling by Lotus, they’re all just chicanes! More fun for you, right?

Last edited 4 months ago by StillNotATony
StillNotATony
StillNotATony
4 months ago
Reply to  The Bishop

Eh, close, but my version would put you more in the driving position of a shifter cart and could have deployable bolsters to keep you in position.

And if you knew you were going to be driving it, dress accordingly!

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
4 months ago
Reply to  The Bishop

I’ll stick with my flying carpet.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
4 months ago
Reply to  The Bishop

Just make planking the required seating position.

Andrew Wyman
Andrew Wyman
4 months ago

I like the focus on handling, but I am pretty sure airports will outlaw these in record time due to swiping out peoples legs as they pass by.

Mr. Asa
Mr. Asa
4 months ago

I thought that I had invented the world’s first motorized ride-on suitcase.

You need to watch more old episodes of Top Gear, my friend

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
4 months ago
Reply to  The Bishop

I don’t know, but I promise you it won’t fit in an overhead compartment.

Mr. Asa
Mr. Asa
4 months ago
Reply to  The Bishop

So long as a Buy ‘N Large brand doesn’t come out, I think we’ll be ok.

Mocamino
Mocamino
4 months ago
Reply to  The Bishop

The HUMMER brand case will be the size of two steamer trunks and will claim the ability to climb stairs. They will fail to actually do so and the battery will die, leaving you to push a 1/2 ton metal box through the airport.

Jonathan Hendry
Jonathan Hendry
4 months ago
Reply to  The Bishop

They probably won’t even get that far because of the firearm left in their unchecked baggage that was found at the x-ray machine.

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