Startups Venture

ForwardX Raises $10M Series A For Its Self-Driving Suitcase

In 1969, Buzz Aldrin’s boots hit the lunar surface just 63 years after the Wright brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk.

Follow Crunchbase News on Twitter & Facebook

But it wasn’t until 1970 that Bernard Sadow had the bright idea to put wheels on a suitcase and patent “rolling luggage” two years later. In 1987, a Northwest Airlines pilot and hobbyist tinkerer named Robert Plath invented the Rollaboard, the classic two-wheeled “carry-on” form factor most of us are familiar with today. Four-wheeled “spinner” luggage only came to market in the early 2000’s.

It took over 45 years, but eliminating the need for a pull-handle is one small step for a suitcase and one giant leap for luggage-kind.

ForwardX Robotics offers a solution to a problem few of us knew we had: namely, dragging a suitcase around.

According to the company, its $799 (MSRP), ten pounds, GPS and 3G-enabled Ovis carry-on is the first fully-autonomous suitcase that follows alongside its owner, totally hands-free. What technology enables this spooky action at a distance, you ask? Its “side-follow” feature is driven by a combination of visual simultaneous localization and mapping (VSLAM, for acronym aficionados) and computer vision algorithms to control its motors and steer the device.

With a removable battery and approved locking mechanism, the device is, for now, compliant with TSA and other air safety regulatory requirements.

Today, the Beijing-headquartered company formally announced a $10 million Series A round co-led by CDH Venture and Eastern Bell Venture Capital. Prior to the funding announced today, the company raised $1 million in an angel round closed in December 2016 shortly after its inception. This round would bring the company’s total venture funding to $11 million USD. The company has launched a pre-order campaign to further finance initial production.

ForwardX Robotics will use its capital to drive three key initiatives: further develop its computer vision and self-driving technologies; expand operations in China and at its newly-opened San Jose office; and “[support] the company’s other consumer products and warehouse self-driving vehicles initiatives,” according to a statement from a spokesperson.

Crunchbase News has previously covered the funding landscape of autonomous vehicle technology, but, admittedly, we didn’t anticipate that it would trickle all the way down to self-driving suitcases. To be sure, it sounds like the Ovis may be a first step for ForwardX Robotics toward a broader portfolio of autonomous vehicles; however, such an amusing entry into the market won’t soon be forgotten.

iStockPhoto / sorbetto

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

Copy link