Why GITA makes a terrible autonomous suitcase

What’s GITA?

Featured in Marriott’s Traveler, GeekWire, and TechCrunch, the GITA robotic luggage is a novel attempt at autonomous luggage.

First available in 2019, by Piaggio Fast Forward — an offshoot of the famous Italian Piaggio scooter brand — the device finds itself in a niche category. Known as a self-following robot, autonomous suitcase or cargo bot, the device is essentially a small suitcase that follows you.

With a renewed drive to sell GITA to industry in 2021, and a string of handy blog posts describing personal uses for the autonomous luggage bot — we look at why it’s such a hard sell.

Who is GITA for?

Since 2019, the Piaggio GITA has been available to purchase for individuals from the mygita website.

GITA’s advanced robotic luggage device is largely aimed as a personal grocery carrier.

After a slow start to private sales, Piaggio Fast Forward are targeting numerous industries to partner with.

PFF is excited to launch a series of scalable pilot programs with partners across select industries including travel, hospitality, real estate, retail, local food delivery

PFF press release

The first partner in the travel industry is Cincinnati’s CVG Airport where they will use the GITA suitcase within concierge services for travellers, alongside luggage processes, and cargo transport.

3 reasons the GITA looks pretty terrible for travel use

  1. Airline rules
  2. Limited mobility
  3. Poor carrying ability

1. It’s no use as a self following suitcase

Unlike the OVIS self-following suitcase, the GITA is completely impractical for use as a personal smart luggage device.

  • As the guardian pointed out when the GITA robot was first released to the public, it doesn’t fit in overhead lockers.
  • Even if it did fit, at 50lb (ca. 23 kg) empty it is over most airlines’ luggage allowances
  • It is banned as smart luggage as it can’t be carried on a plane due to non-removable batteries.
travelmate smart luggage that follows you spinning in circles
Travelmate Robotics self following suitcase is far more practical for personal travel

2. It can’t move around airports

ANA flight attendants with their luggage

While the tech that powers GITA is clever — it has a LIDAR scanner to automatically detect obstacles and to follow it’s designated handler — it has one major flaw. It only works on flat surfaces.

The operating manual specifies it can travel up small and down small inclines, up to a maximum gradient of 16%, but only on smooth surfaces.

Anyone who has visited a modern airport knows they are a maze of lifts, escalators, steps, and public transport links. And that’s before you venture into some airports carparks, which can be a world away from the smooth, polished surface of the terminal floors!

That’s a no-go for GITA.

3. GITA doesn’t actually carry much luggage

It turns out the GITA luggage carrier doesn’t actually carry a huge amount. The maximum weight you can fit into the cargo bin is 40lbs or 18 kg, slightly less than most airlines carry on luggage limits.

If you overlooked all its flaws and tried to use GITA as a self following suitcase you will find that despite its significantly larger size, the internal storage space is similar to a standard carry-on size suitcase. For reference, at 2630 cubic inches (ca. 43 l), it’s roughly the same interior space as the Samsonite Prodigy.

However, as we’ve seen, due to its size weight and regulations you can’t actually use GITA as a self following suitcase. With this small storage capacity and a strict 18 kg weight limit, it’s difficult to see how much use GITA luggage would be in commercial uses around airports either. It will be interesting to see what PFF’s travel partner Cincinnati Airport end up using their GITA robots for.

Summary

GITA empowers people of all ages to more actively enjoy their surroundings, and to interact with their communities in a more meaningful way

Greg Lynn, CEO, and co-founder at PFF

The GITA autonomous luggage falls into an awkward area of small cargo devices.

Whilst it is too cumbersome and heavy to be used as a self following suitcase — such as ForwardX’s OVIS — it is also too small and not robust enough to be used as a commercial device.

The two-wheel balancing robotic suitcase is left to fill a niche role. The brand suggest accompanying people carrying shopping home, or if you want to read in the park but don’t fancy carrying a newspaper. As long as the park doesn’t have grass. And there aren’t any steps involved. And it’s not raining — the lid isn’t waterproof.

That’s before we get onto the staggering $3000+ dollar price tag.

Arguably the most interesting thing about the GITA luggage robot is found in the ominous sounding FAQ section….

Is gita safe?

Gita’s lightweight, rounded shape and soft plastic body make it generally safe when used in accordance with the Safety instructions.