Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Modobag? Motorized luggage? Please, God, no…

It used to be that the biggest hazard you faced in the airport was being mowed down by one of those golf-cart like vehicles that zip around the terminals to get the elderly, the disabled, and, sometimes, as far as I can tell, the just plain lazy to their gates. I do get the need for them. What I don’t get is why they have to go so darned fast, blasting their horns so that us sluggard pedestrians can get the hell out of the way – and drag our bags-on-wheels with us.

Wheeled luggage. Now there was an invention. No more knees buckling under the weight of a way too heavy bag. No more having to fight for a luggage cart. No more having to bring along your own personal luggage carrier (and worrying about whether it was safely stowed in the overhead compartment: those suckers could do some damage if they crashed on to someone’s noggin.)

But now, apparently, what people really need is to get through the airport avec vitesse, as the French would say – three times faster than those of us on our own two feet. Forget OJ Simpson tearing through a terminal at running back speed. Come January 2017, we’ll have to be on the lookout for speed demons riding Modobags.

What’s a Modobag?

It’s a motorized suitcase, and the brain child of one Kevin O’Donnell, a Chicago entrepreneur whose other brain children include a break dance troupe, a pub, and a snow plowing business.

O’Donnell went looking for $50K on Indiegogo to help get Modobag off the ground, but he’s already raised over $150K from those who want one. (And if you head on over to Indiegogo, you can see just how much fun cowboying up with your Modobag looks like.)

The suitcase is described as “the world’s only motorized, smart, and connected carry-on.” Riders control the suitcase with a throttle and a hand brake. It can take you a distance of about 6 miles on a single charge. It can also charge your phone as you whiz by those poor souls who are stuck pulling their suitcases. Pulling a suitcase is so 2015. As long as you weigh less than 260 pounds, you can ride a Modobag. (Source: Boston Globe)

As far as I can see, the only good point is that at least we won’t get plowed over by someone who weighs more than 260 pounds.

Other than that, what I can foresee is that, if these devices take off, there will be a new form of airport terrorism: getting whacked by louts on Modobags.

These buggies zip at 8 mph. That’s pretty darned fast.

Will drivers need to be licensed? Will they need to be insured? Will they have special lanes, or will Modobaggers be able to buzz through wherever they want? Will there be traffic cops making sure Modobaggers observe the rules of the road?

If the bags only went as fast as the average walker – 3 mph – I’d be fine with it. But, at 8 mph, they’re going a lot faster. And fast enough to do plenty of damage if they run into you or over your foot (even if the ‘bagger doesn’t weigh 260 pounds).

Supporters on Indiegogo clearly differ from my view here.

But I think that, if these ever go into real use, we’re just one old lady with a broken hip, one toddler with a fractured skull, from major product liability.

Seriously, if you need to get to your gate three times faster than you can by walking, just get to the damned airport a few minutes earlier.

On their Indiegogo page, Modobag boasts that “Travel Will Never Be the Same!”

Yeah. Especially for those of us who will have to be on the alert so that we won’t fall victim to a Modobag.


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