Hang onto your baby bonnets: Self-driving technology is coming to strollers.
Canadian-based baby gear startup Gluxkind was showing off its Ella AI Powered Smart Stroller at this year's CES, the consumer electronics show in Las Vegas that offers some of the most cutting edge -- and out-there -- new technologies.
The smart stroller offers much of the same tech seen in autonomous cars and delivery robots, including a dual-motor system for uphill walks and automatic downhill brake assist. Like a Tesla with "Autopilot," the Gluxkind's stroller's onboard technolgy has sensors that detect objects around it -- but it's meant to serve as an "extra pairs of eyes and an extra set of hands," according to the company's website -- not a replacement for a caregiver.
The Ella stroller is able to drive itself for hands-free strolling -- but only when a child is not inside. It uses cameras to monitor surroundings and navigate the sidewalks.
For parents who are probably and understandably nervous about putting their baby in a stroller with a mind of its own, Gluxkind provided a YouTube video with some use cases. A parent walking a stroller down hill rushes to save a child's dropped toy that is rolling away. The stroller brakes on its own.
In another demo, a child is tired of sitting in the stroller and wants to be carried. The Ella strolls itself while the parent carries the child.
Still self-driving technology isn't totally proven and certainly not ready for prime time. Although companies that have implemented the technology in cars say they add an element of safety when used properly and the driver is paying attention, putting children in the care of AI may not be for everyone.
Gluxkind, founded in 2020, also put additional stroller-specific features into the Ella including "Automatic Rock-My-Baby" and a built-in white noise machine to soothe sleeping toddlers. The entire system is outfitted with a car seat, infant bassinet and toddler seat.
"The development has been driven by our own experience as new parents.," Anne Hunger, Gluxkind CPO and co-founder, wrote in a November press release. "We've put a lot of hard work into this product and are excited to get it into more customers' hands in 2023."
For $3,300, parents can join the pre-order list for the 30-pound Ella, one of the consumer tech products named as an Innovation Awards Honoree at the 2023 CES show. Deliveries of the stroller are expected to begin in April 2023, according to the company website.
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