Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
SMART MULTIFUNCTION ELECTRICALLY POWERED SUITCASE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/160543
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A container, such as a suitcase, bag, cart, valise, or trunk includes various only one of its kind wheel sets combinations, including a wheel set combining both spinner wheels and inline skate wheels in the same article, wheels that extends and retracts for ultimate maneuverability in different scenarios, and utilizing powered wheels incase located at the corner or back side to provided added stability and control when tilting the container or transporting it up stairs. The container also may include advanced convenience features to include other than power assisted motion, may include telescopic handle with electronic components and various additional "high tech" options, such as built-in communication, navigation, navigation and/or direction indication capabilities, mobile phone, WiFi capabilities, USB outlet, rechargeable batteries, electronic power bank charging ports, smart locking, identification and/or tracking, and various safety features.

Inventors:
OSSEIRAN, Ali Sami Bek (Sodeco Square - Block D, Sodeco, Beirut, LB)
Application Number:
US2018/018185
Publication Date:
August 22, 2019
Filing Date:
February 14, 2018
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
OSSEIRAN, Ali Sami Bek (Sodeco Square - Block D, Sodeco, Beirut, LB)
International Classes:
A45C13/18; A45C5/03; A45C5/06; A45C5/14; A45C7/00; A45C9/00; A45C13/24; A45C13/26; A45C15/00; H04W4/00; H04W4/80
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
URCIA, Benjamin Edward et al. (Bacon & Thomas, PLLC625 Slaters Lane, 4th Flr, Alexandria Virginia, 22314, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A wheeled container having multiple wheel sets, comprising:

a first set at the bottom of the container including multidirectional spinner wheels and/or a second set including powered in-line skate wheels; and

a third set consisting of side rollers/wheels positioned at a back side or corner of the container to act as additional surface wheels for supporting a weight of the container when the container is being transported in a tilted position or vertically such as over steps whereby the multiple wheel sets enable the container to be pushed, pulled, or dragged in three dimensions, i.e., along any of three orthogonal axes.

2. A wheeled container as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the container includes both said first set including multidirectional spinner wheels and said second set including powered in-line skate wheels.

3. A wheeled container as claimed, in claim 1 , wherein the third set of wheels is arranged to be moved to a position that is within or flush with a casing of the container, and which is moved into a weight-supporting position by a releasing mechanism.

4. A wheeled container as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the container is a suitcase.

5. A wheeled container as claimed in claim 4, further including a power assist feature in which at least one wheel of the wheel sets is driven by an electric motor to enable powered movement of the suitcase.

6. A wheeled container as claimed in claim 4, wherein the container is a carry-on suitcase having dimensions arranged to enable the suitcase to fit into an overhead compartment or under a seat of a passenger airplane.

7. A wheeled container as claimed in claim 4, further comprising a telescopic handle used not only for steering the suitcase, but also to house electronic components, operation controls, and/or sensors that control at least one wheel-driving motor.

8. A wheeled container as claimed in claim 4, further comprising multiple access compartments that enable removal of items from carry-on luggage for airport security checks without opening the main compartment.

9. A wheeled container as claimed in claim 4, further comprising at least one vacuum pump bag to reduce a volume of contents of the suitcase.

10. A wheeled container as claimed in claim 4, further comprising a detachable sack or pocket arranged to be removed from the suitcase in order to keep essential articles such as medications or electronics closer at hand when checking the suitcase or storing it in an overhead bin.

11. A wheeled container as claimed in claim 4, further comprising a leash to facilitate user handling of the suitcase on stairs or to release a motorized wheel assembly into an extended position.

12. A wheeled container as claimed in claim 4, wherein the suitcase includes smart identification tags or QR capabilities, and/or GPS tracking capabilities, to facilitate recovery of the suitcase in case it becomes lost.

13. A wheeled container as claimed in claim 4, further comprising proximity sensors including reporting means, a distance indicator, and/or a remote ringer that can be used to monitor both the luggage itself as well as proximity of small objects such as linked smart phones or tablets with respect to the luggage.

14. A wheeled container as claimed in claim 4, further including a mobile phone at least equipped to provide one button communications with emergency personnel or authorities and to provide them with a current location.

15. A wheeled container as claimed in claim 4, further comprising a compass and/or direction indicating capabilities to Qibla/ Makah location

16. A wheeled container as claimed in claim 4, further comprising smart lock technology utilizing locks that employ near field communication (NFC) to toggle a locking mechanism with a signature device, or a smartphone app, in addition to an auxiliary combination or key to toggle the locking mechanism in case of a misplaced NFC tag, or in case the smartphone or tablet has a dead battery.

17. A wheeled container as claimed in claim 16, further comprising an electronic register recording the times the lock has been opened.

18. A wheeled container as claimed in claim 4, further comprising one or more of the following: at least one USB outlet, a power adapter, rechargeable battery, radio module, MP3 module, built in speakers, power bank charging ports for charging other electronics, and a digital self-scale.

19. A wheeled container as claimed in claim 4, provided with communication capabilities selected from at least one of Bluetooth, NFC, RFID and WiFi capabilities including automatic connection to previously recognized publicly available services.

20. A wheeled container as claimed in claim 4, further comprising added safety features to account for fire hazards resulting from inclusion of a portable battery and selected from at least one of emergency fire suppressants, intumescent strips, and a shield and/or protective material to surround the battery and other conductive components, and at least one circuit breaker or power disconnection circuit to protect against power overloads, short-circuits, thermal stresses, and direct and indirect contact with electrical currents.

21. A smart suitcase, comprising one or more of the features recited in claims 1 -20.

22. A smart suitcase as claimed in claim 21 , further comprising one or more of the following features: wheels that are adjustable in vertical and/or horizontal directions, and/or detachable, by mechanical and/or electromechanical mechanisms and controls; motor speed control and setting; an easy link device or appliance that connects multiple suitcases together for simultaneously transport; a radio, mp3 player, pilot light, alarm clock and/or head phone outlet; an expandable body, handy front pocket for convenient access to all essentials, and laptop slot; one or more speaker amplifiers; and any other comfort or convenience features to further assist travelers in transporting luggage and thus make travelling more pleasant and self sufficient.

AMENDED CLAIMS

received by the International Bureau on 16 July 2018 (16.07.2018)

[Claim 1] A wheeled container having multiple wheel sets, comprising:

a body portion, comprising of multiple compartments for holding personal items and goods

multiple wheel sets, including:

a first set at the bottom of the body portion including at least four multidirectional spinner wheels and a second set including at least one powered wheel component fixed to the bottom of the container and driven by a motor;

an extendable handle including a handle grip and at least one electronic component for controlling the motor; and

at least one power source including at least one rechargeable portable battery.

[Claim 2] [Cancelled]

[Claim 3] A wheeled container as claimed, in claim 1 , further comprising a third set of wheels positioned at a back side or corner of the container to act as additional wheels for supporting a weight of the container when the container is being transported in a tilted position or vertically such as over steps and arranged to be moved to a position that is within or flush with a casing of the container, and which is moved into a weight-supporting position by a releasing mechanism.

[Claim 4] A wheeled container as claimed in claim 1, wherein the container is a suitcase.

[Claim 5] A wheeled container as claimed in claim 1, wherein at least one of the wheels is detachable. [Claim 6] A wheeled container as claimed in claim 4, wherein the container is a carry-on suitcase having dimensions arranged to enable the suitcase to fit into an overhead compartment or under a seat of a passenger airplane, and further comprising further comprising a detachable sack or pocket arranged to be removed from the suitcase in order to keep essential articles such as medications or electronics closer at hand when checking the suitcase or storing it in an overhead bin.

[Claim 7] [Cancelled]

[Claim 8] A wheeled container as claimed in claim 4, the multiple compartments include multiple access compartments arranged to enable removal of items from carry-on luggage for airport security checks without opening the main compartment.

[Claim 9] A wheeled container as claimed in claim 4, further comprising at least one vacuum pump bag stored within the container body portion and available to reduce a volume of contents of the suitcase if needed.

[Claim 10] [Cancelled]

[Claim 11] A wheeled container as claimed in claim 1, further comprising a leash to facilitate user handling of the container on stairs or to release a motorized wheel assembly into an extended position.

[Claim 12] A wheeled container as claimed in claim 1, wherein the container includes smart

identification tags or QR capabilities, and/or GPS tracking capabilities, to facilitate recovery of the container in case it becomes lost. [Claim 13] A wheeled container as claimed in claim 4, further comprising proximity sensors including reporting means, a distance indicator, and/or a remote ringer that can be used to monitor both the container itself as well as proximity of small objects such as linked smart phones or tablets with respect to the container.

[Claim 14] [Cancelled]

[Claim 15] A wheeled container as claimed in claim 4, further comprising a compass and/or direction indicating capabilities to Qibla/ Makah location

[Claim 16] A wheeled container as claimed in claim 4, further comprising smart lock technology

utilizing locks that employ near field communication (NFC) to toggle a locking mechanism with a signature device, or a smartphone app, in addition to an auxiliary combination or key to toggle the locking mechanism in case of a misplaced NFC tag, or in case the smartphone or tablet has a dead battery.

[Claim 17] A wheeled container as claimed in claim 16, further comprising an electronic register

recording the times the lock has been opened.

[Claim 18] A wheeled container as claimed in claim 4, further comprising one or more of the following:

at least one USB outlet, a power adapter, rechargeable battery, radio module, MP3 module, built in speakers, power bank charging ports for charging other electronics, a digital self scale, and wireless communication capabilities.

[Claim 19] [Cancelled]

[Claim 20] A wheeled container as claimed in claim 1, further comprising added safety features to account for fire hazards resulting from inclusion of the rechargeable portable battery and selected from at least one of emergency fire suppressants, intumescent strips, and a shield and/or protective material to surround the battery and other conductive components, and at least one circuit breaker or power disconnection circuit to protect against power overloads, short-circuits, thermal stresses, and direct and indirect contact with electrical currents.

[Claim 21] A smart suitcase, comprising one or more of the features recited in claims 1-20.

[Claim 22] A smart suitcase as claimed in claim 21, further comprising one or more of the following features: wheels that are adjustable in vertical and/or horizontal directions, and/or detachable, by mechanical and/or electromechanical mechanisms and controls; motor speed control and setting; an easy link device or appliance that connects multiple suitcases together for simultaneously transport; a radio, mp3 player, pilot light, alarm clock and/or head phone outlet; an expandable body, handy front pocket for convenient access to all essentials, and laptop slot; one or more speaker amplifiers; and any other comfort or convenience features to further assist travelers in transporting luggage and thus make travelling more pleasant and self-sufficient.

[Claim 23] [Added] A wheeled container as claimed in claim 1, wherein the at least one powered

wheel component includes a driven wheel that rotates about a fixed axle.

Description:
SMART MULTIFUNCTION ELECTRICALLY POWERED SUITCASE

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

[0001] The invention relates to a container, and in particular to luggage or another article intended to assist the individual in carrying one or more items while traveling, running errands, transporting goods and personal effects or the like. The container may, by way of example and not limitation, be a suitcase, bag, cart, valise, or trunk.

[0002] The container of the invention may include, by way of example and not limitation, power assisted motion and various additional convenience and“high tech” options, including unique new wheel assembles, electric motors , a distinctive telescopic handle, fire retardant materials, safety elements, built-in communication, navigation, entertainment and/or direction indication capabilities, smart identification, locking and/or tracking, and other features which will be apparent from the following description.

2. Description of Related Art

[0003] Luggage development has come a long way since the days of old world trunks and valises. In the early days people used those big trunks for their luggage, the ones that it took two people to carry. Then came the one-handle suitcase. Then the suitcase with wheels. The present invention represents the next step in this evolutionary process, by providing various embodiments that each address one or more of the following deficiencies of currently-available or proposed wheeled suitcases: [0004] Conventional wheeled suitcases tend to be relatively heavy, with some suitcases intended as checked luggage exceeding eight kilograms in weight when empty. Even when reduced to carry-on size the weight of the suitcases may make them difficult to carry, despite the relatively small interior dimensions. As a result, the suitcases cannot easily be transported up stairs, or lifted for storage or security checks.

[0005] The difficulty in handling the conventional suitcase is compounded by limitations inherent in various wheel designs. Wheeled suitcases are conventionally designed with in-line skate wheels, or spinner or coaster (single or double) wheels, but not both typed of wheels simultaneously, limiting the ability of the user to use either one of the wheel types as the transport situation requires. Some cities such as Venice, Italy, prohibit motorized means of transportation on the streets and restrict it to water boats, so that this invention can be especially helpful for tourists and residents and provide a solution for this challenge of carrying luggage.

[0006] In order to add convenience features such as self-powered wheels, the suitcase must be adapted to include controls. However, telescopic handle designs of conventional wheeled suitcases may be incompatible with electronic controls, or make their inclusion difficult or impractical. In addition, motors and batteries, if provided in the conventional suitcase, not only add weight, but also take up a relatively large amount of space, further reducing the space available for packing articles. The motors that are included are limited to a specific motor type and lack flexibility in design, or fail to utilize advanced technologies such as in-hub miniature motors, or other advanced types of brushed, brushless, geared and gearless motors.

[0007] In lieu of handle controls, self-propelled suitcases have been proposed that maintain a predetermined distance from a user without contact, based on sensor input to allow the suitcase to follow the user on its own. However, these auto-follow robotic suitcases, which are designed for hands-free operation without the need for physical contact during transporting, steering and controlling, are impractical and hazardous in many situations, especially when used in publicly jammed areas such as airports, sidewalks, steps and ramps, etc., because they impose safety or tripping hazards for the public and have a tendency to hit obstacles, people, or animals that happen to be in their way. Such auto-follow suitcases require more focus by users to watch and ensure that their luggage is following the right path at all times, thus occupying the user’s full attention and distracting the user from focusing on more important matters, such as gate signs, directions, time, and so forth, or simply enjoying the surroundings or traveling companions. The lack of a person physically controlling the suitcase presents safety and security concerns such as hitting or tripping people crossing the suitcase’s path, especially when everyone is too in a hurry to pay attention to independent moving articles at below eye level, and makes the suitcase more susceptible to theft or tampering. This is especially problematic in airports where it is not allowed to leave luggage unattended for any length of time.

[0008] Auto-follow suitcases depend on other gadgets with receptors or transmitter sensors to operate properly. The gadgets, which may for example take the form of or be integrated with watches, bracelets, or shoes, which can easily be forgotten or lost, and require synchronization with suitcase electronics. Other conventional power assisted containers or luggage, on the other hand, are totally different in design, concept, weight, function, capacity, limitations, choice of models (only available in one size), etc., and are unsuitable for use as luggage.

[0009] While the conventional luggage might seem to share some features of the invention, there are numerous differences. For example, while conventional suitcases may have tracking capabilities, they fail to include related improvements such as using a smart QR ID code to enable tracking in case of loss. Other luggage that does have tracking capabilities may lack Wi-Fi connection capabilities such as automatic scan and connectivity for updating the positioning of luggage and communication link, and still other luggage with advanced tracking or other capabilities may not meet airlines regulations and those of concerned authorities. Additional deficiencies of conventional luggage may include any of the following:

[0010] Conventional suitcases fail to incorporate additional convenience features such as a built-in radio or media player, speaker(s) and/or headphone outlets, power status and other indicators, and so forth.

[0011] Luggage and other devices with electronics and batteries, and/or the contents of such luggage, may represent fire hazards and lack safety elements or features such as fire suppressant materials, shields, intumescent strips and other protective features to act as fire and smoke retardants, as well as instruments or devices to provide protection against power overloads, short- circuits, thermal stresses for additional safety factors.

[0012] Conventional luggage with communications capabilities, or that emit electromagnetic radiation, may lack a flight mode or flight mode duration timer, settable by an electronic connection or remotely by a wireless setting.

[0013] Conventional suitcases lack a built-in or removable mobile phone, which may be especially helpful in emergency situations, particular with the inclusion of a button that dials a preset number to make a personal or emergency call and share location by electronic message.

[0014] Conventional suitcases, including those designed for carry on use, may lack easy special access compartments that enable easy removal of and access to frequently removed or needed items, for example to removal electronic devices during airport security screening without opening the suitcase main compartments.

[0015] The wheels of conventional wheeled suitcases do not have wheel assemblies of type included in the present invention and/or may not be adjustable, the suitcases may lack a mechanical and/or electromechanical mechanism for conveniently adjusting wheel positions, and/or the suitcases may lack any power wheel system

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0016] In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, a container such as a suitcase is provided with multiple wheel sets for different models, including i) a first set at the bottom of luggage bag consisting of spinner multidirectional wheels (foldable or fixed type) ii) a second set made of in-line wheels with the option of being adjustable into various positions or foldable so that the wheels can be folded into a concealed box that may be protected by foldable racks when in a parked position, with wheel positioning adjustment by either mechanical or electromechanical means, and iii) a third set consisting of side rollers/wheels positioned at the back side or corner of the suitcase to transfer luggage weight when pulled up steps or stairs, and which may also be moved into position by a releasing mechanism to act as additional surface wheels for supporting a weight of the suitcase when being transported in a tilted position. The various wheel sets enable the suitcase to be pushed, pulled, or dragged in all directions , i.e., along any of three orthogonal axes, and may include a power assist feature in which at least one of the wheel is driven by a miniature electric motor to enable either powered or non-powered movement of the suitcase.

[0017] In another aspect of the invention, a suitcase is designed to have a relatively light weight for its size, preferably less than six kilograms for a carry-on/cabin size piece of luggage and less than eight kilograms for checked-in sizes, while still providing power assist and other“smart” and/or convenience features such as optional USB outlets and/or a power adapter, a digital self-scale, and may include communication capabilities such as Bluetooth, WiFi, RFID, and/or other communication means, and added safety features to account for fire hazards resulting from the inclusion of a portable battery and meet or exceed airline and FAA regulations, such as emergency fire suppressants, intumescent strips, shields, and/or protective material to surround the battery and other conductive components, as well circuit breaker or power disconnection circuits to protect against power overloads, short-circuits, thermal stresses, and direct and indirect contact with electrical currents.

[0018] According to another aspect of the invention, the suitcase may include a distinctive telescopic handle that can be used not only for steering the suitcase, but may also house electronic components, operation controls, and/or sensors that control the motor or motors.

[0019] Additional features that may be provided in embodiments of the invention include the use of high grade soft, hard, or hybrid materials, solar charging capabilities, compartments for carry-on size suitcases that make it possible to quickly remove items from the luggage for airport security checks without opening the main compartment, the incorporation of one or more vacuum type bags that can substantially reduce the volume of the luggage; a detachable sack or pocket that can be removed from the luggage in order to keep essential articles such as medications or electronics closer at hand when checking the suitcase or storing it in an overhead bin, a leash to facilitate user handling on stairs or to release a motorized wheel assembly into an extended position; smart identification tags or QR capabilities, and/or GPS tracking capabilities, to facilitate recovery of the luggage in case it becomes lost; proximity sensors including reporting means, distance indicator, and/or remote ringer that can be used to monitor both the luggage itself as well as proximity of small objects such as smart phones or tablets with respect to the luggage; WiFi capabilities including automatic connection to previously recognized publically available services; and incorporation of a fixed or removable mobile phone, with or without smart and navigation features, but which preferably is at least equipped to provide one button communications with emergency personnel or authorities and to provide them with current location. In addition, the suitcases or other containers of the preferred embodiments may be provided with a compass or direction indicating capabilities, which are especially helpful for indicating direction of Qibla/Makah. [0020] The suitcases or other containers of the preferred embodiments may utilize smart lock technology, such as locks that employ near field communication (NFC) to toggle a locking mechanism with a signature device, or a smartphone app, in addition to the traditional auxiliary combination or key to toggle the locking mechanism in case, for example, of a misplaced NFC tag, or in case the smartphone or tablet has a dead battery. Smart locks may also include other security features such as electronic register recording of the times the lock has been opened.

[0021] Still further features that may be provided in the suitcases of the preferred embodiments include the use of one or more compact rechargeable multipurpose battery power banks, such as Lithium-ion battery packs, having diagnostic indicator panels; a telescoping handle that includes an inside groove for accommodating electric wiring and/or electronics and that may be long enough to easily accommodate a second bag on top; a flight mode option for electronics that can be set by direct controls or remotely by wireless setting means; wheels that are adjustable in vertical and/or horizontal directions, and/or detachable, by mechanical and/or electromechanical mechanisms and controls; motor speed control and setting; an easy link device or appliance that connects multiple suitcases together for simultaneously transport; a radio, mp3 player, pilot light, alarm clock and/or head phone outlet; an expandable body, handy front pocket for convenient access to all essentials, and laptop slot; one or more speaker amplifiers; the use of a variety of zipper types (including security and double zippers) and/or clips to hold the suitcases of the preferred embodiments securely in a closed position; and any other comfort or convenience features to further assist travelers in transporting luggage and thus make travelling more pleasant and self-sufficient.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0022] Figs. 1A-1 D are respective top, back, front, and side views of a suitcase constructed in accordance with the principles of a preferred embodiment of the invention.

[0023] Figs. 2A-2D are bottom views of different power assist wheel configurations for use in preferred embodiments of the invention.

[0024] Fig. 3 is a table of additional features that may be included in suitcases constructed in accordance with principles of the invention.

[0025] Figs. 4A-4D are side views of various positions of a suitcase that includes the wheel configurations of the variations labeled as models A1 and A2 illustrated in Fig. 2A.

[0026] Fig. 5 shows a collection of icons representing optional features, including various“smart” features, that may be included in the preferred suitcase.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0027] Throughout the following description and drawings, like reference numbers/characters refer to like elements. It should be understood that, although specific exemplary embodiments are discussed herein there is no intent to limit the scope of present invention to such embodiments. To the contrary, it should be understood that the exemplary embodiments discussed herein are for illustrative purposes, and that modified and alternative embodiments may be implemented without departing from the scope of the present invention.

[0028] As illustrated in Figs. 1A-1 D, a suitcase constructed in accordance with the principles of a preferred embodiment of the invention includes a casing 1 having an extendable handle that includes a handle grip 2 and a pair of telescoping tube assemblies 8 that extend from the casing 1 to the grip 2, and that allow the grip 2 to be moved from a position flush with the top of the casing to an extended position sufficiently far from the casing to allow a user to pull the suitcase by grasping the grip 2 with one hand while in an upright position and walking while at least two of the wheels 3, described in more detail below, roll along the ground. Telescoping handle assemblies per se. , i.e., handle assemblies without additional electronic control features (described below) are well known and the present invention is not limited to any particular telescoping arrangement or configuration. The telescoping tube assemblies may, for example, include one or more tubes that fit within one another and/or extend from a corresponding mechanism or fitting within the casing 1 .

[0029] The dimensions of the casing may be those of a carry-on bag designed to fit within the overhead compartment of an airliner, although the invention may be applied to full size suitcases and other items of luggage or containers. In addition, the casing 1 may be made of a variety of materials, including rigid and soft materials, and is not limited to a particular material.

[0030] The casing 1 further includes a side handle 30 and/or top handle 6 that allows the casing to be carried or lifted by the handle in order to, for example, place the suitcase in a car trunk or the overhead bin of an airliner.

[0031] As illustrated in Figs. 2A to 2D, wheels 3, 9, or 45, and/or wheel assembly 10, may be arranged in various configurations For example, Figs. 2A, 2C, and 2D show non- motorized wheels 3 on four sides of the base of casing 1 , in combination with one or more of the motorized wheels or wheel assemblies situated at a center or side of the casing bottom.

[0032] The wheels 3 may be in the form of 360 degree spinner wheels positioned at four corners of the suitcase bottom and allow manual movement of the suitcase in any direction along a flat surface. A power assist for movement along the flat surface may be provided by wheels 9 or wheel assemblies 10 situated anywhere along the bottom of the suitcase, the wheels 9 or wheel assemblies 10 are driven by motors, which also may be situated at any location on the bottom surface, including positions adjacent respective powered wheels or within the wheel hubs or wheel assemblies. By way of example and not limitation, a motor may be housed in compartment 29 illustrated in Figs. 1 B-1 D.

[0033] The motorized wheel or wheels 9 shown in Figs. 2A and 2B may be in the form of fixed axle inline skate wheels, or may have multiple interchangeable directions. External miniature motors may replace in-hub motors. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the invention should not be limited to a particular motor type or drive train. For example, the motor (whether provided as an in-hub motor or an external motor) may be a geared or gearless electric motor, block transmission type electric motor, and/or brushed or brushless AC or DC motor, with or without a built-in controller, while the drive train may include any of a variety of gears or belts.

[0034] In the embodiments labeled as Model A1 and Model A2 shown in Fig. 2A, the motorized wheels 9 are positioned on the handle side of the suitcase, and may be positioned above the plane of the suitcase bottom or base to provide a power assist when the suitcase is tilted. [0035] In a variation of Models A1 and A2, additional wheel assemblies 45 may be added to provide additional stability when the suitcase is tilted. The wheel assemblies my normal be positioned flush with the sides of the suitcase, as shown in Fig. 4E, and be pivotable to engage the floor when extra stability or a power assist is desired as shown in Fig. 4C.

[0036] Power to the motor or motors 4 may be provided by batteries included in a portable power bank compartment 1 1 visible and accessible from inside the suitcase body at an upper end, or a portable power bank compartment 16 accessible from the suitcase interior at a bottom side of the suitcase. Multiple power banks may also be provided, with the lower power bank providing power to the wheels and the upper power bank providing power for electronic accessories as described below. The batteries may include, but are not limited to, Lithium ion batteries, in which case fire protection may be provided by placing the battery or batteries in a fixed or portable insulated battery casing that includes fire retardant materials and intumescent sealant to contain sparks, fire, or smoke originating from the battery or batteries. A socket 31 may optionally be provided on an exterior of the casing 1 to allow recharging of the batteries without opening the suitcase.

[0037] The suitcase of the preferred embodiments may be provided with any of a variety of electrical or electronic accessories, including but not limited to“smart” and/or convenience features such as optional direction indicator or compass 23, which could be used for example to indicate Qibla direction, USB charging ports/outlets and/or power adapter(s) 13 provided on an exterior of the casing 1 , a digital self-scale including a display 19 and weight sensors (not shown), and communication capabilities such as Bluetooth, WiFi, RFID, and/or other communication means 35 for providing wireless remote control capabilities utilizing an App module 24. The control functions may include control of motorized wheel movement and direction via a dedicated remote control or the user’s smartphone or other device capable of handling control inputs, as well as flight mode activation for preventing prohibited transmission during flight, takeoff, or landing.

[0038] As illustrated, the suitcase of the preferred embodiments may also include smart identification or QR tags 40, and/or a GPS module 25 that provides tracking capabilities, to facilitate recovery of the luggage in case it becomes lost. Further loss prevention may be provided by optional proximity sensors 21 , distance indicator, and/or remote alarm ringer that can be used to monitor both the luggage itself as well as proximity of small objects such as smart phones or tablets with respect to the luggage, including reporting means for alerting an owner via the above-mentioned communications capabilities. Further security may be provided by the inclusion of appropriate locks, such as a Tesa, Travel Sentry, or other airport security check compatible lock 17 and/or an NFC or Bluetooth based remotely controllable smart lock, additional or redundant locks (not shown), an electronic register recording of the times the lock has been opened and so forth. For example, the smart lock technology may utilize locks that employ near field communication (NFC) to toggle a locking mechanism with a signature device, or a smartphone app, in addition to an auxiliary combination or key to toggle the locking mechanism in case of a misplaced NFC tag, or in case the smartphone or tablet has a dead battery.

[0039] A wheeled container as claimed in claim 16, further comprising as electronic register recording of the times the lock has been opened. To ensure digital security, the suitcase may be provided with an RFID protected interior compartment (not shown).

[0040] One way to establish communications for purposes or remote control of the suitcase is via WiFi, and therefore the suitcase may be provided with WiFi capabilities including automatic connection to previously recognized publicly available services via a WiFi locator module, and/or cellular network communication capabilities. The suitcase may also include a built-in speaker and radio module 18 or MP3 player, and or a built-in or removable cellular or mobile telephone 36 with an emergency power supply, preset emergency numbers for one-button communication, and the ability to send a message with GPS location upon request. It will be appreciated that any electronic accessories or features may require appropriate indicators such as status indicator lights 15, pilot light 20, an on/off module 22 (various optional alternative locations being shown) circuit boards or modules, interface and control mechanisms and electronics, connectors, and so forth, which may be situated within the suitcase, as will be understood by those skilled in the art.

[0041] While the principles of the invention may be applied to a variety of container and luggage configurations, in the suitcase example illustrated in Figs. 1A-1 D, the suitcase may include such features as a detachable external side pocket 12 and an easy-access front compartment 43 for easy access to carried items without having to open the main compartment of the suitcase. For example, the detachable side pocket 12 may be detached when checking or storing the luggage in an overhead bin to keep medications, small electronics, reading materials and other items close at hand, while the front compartment may be provided in carry-on luggage and include a secure closure such as a zipper, clip, or snap latch to afford quick access, without having to unlock the suitcase, to electronics or other items that need to be taken out for airport security. In addition, an expansion panel 26 may be included in the exterior casing 1 of the suitcase to permit expansion of the main compartment, and the suitcase may include such additional optional convenience features as a bottom grip or handle 33, provision for an adjustable add-on carrying strap, bumper guards 38 at various locations on the casing 1 , and pedestals 28.