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Wheeled luggage today comes in two types:
1. The two-wheeled type, with wheels located at the ends of the long edge of the smallest surface on the bag (typically with two solid feet located at the opposing vertices on the smallest surface; a feature which enables the bag to stand in a
deceptively unstable vertical position). This type of luggage is dragged across the airport floor on a slant which varies depending on the traveler's height and arm's length. In the case of a short person with long arms, the luggage may only rise 45 or fewer degrees off the ground. After repackaging by the TSA (or non-engineer spouse) into a top-loaded mass distribution, the majority of the bag's weight ends up supported by the traveler's body - soon leading to hand, shoulder, and back pain.
2. The four-wheeled type, with all wheels located on the smallest surface. Except for this luggage's tendency to move around on its own when you want it to stand still, it is otherwise functionally indistinguishable from the two-wheeled type.
A much better design is a four-wheeled configuration where all wheels are located at the vertices of the largest surface of the bag. A pulling or pushing, telescoping handle hinges from one of the edges where the largest surface meets the smallest.
This design enables the bag to rest on its wheels horizontally, i.e., the four shortest edges are perpendicular to the ground. Now all of the weight is supported by the wheels, and the traveler's body only needs to supply horizontal acceleration.
The large top-facing surface can support additional items such as a spouse's purse, diaper bag, or small child (* child-carrying feature subject to safety testing), or, a whole identical bag (this is the "stackable" feature) -- all without any increase in static loads on the traveler's body.
An optional locking feature on the handle allows the bag to be used in a two-wheeled configuration, to give the user a sporty feel, not unlike the manual mode on an automatic transmission.
Finally, in the special-edition Solo Adventure model, stronger wheels, brakes, and a steering mechanism connected to the telescoping handle (when locked at 90 degrees off the ground), enables the traveler to ride the luggage as a foot-propelled skateboard scooter.
"half suitcase, half homicidal maniac" [8th of 7, May 30 2011]
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||This could easily morph into skateboard luggage. Bun [+].
||Would it be possible to have your luggage follow you by walking on lots of tiny little legs ?
||[sp]: indistinguishable, but [+] anyway.
||If the handle is going to pack away telescopically (not mentioned in the idea, but it's a useful feature) and be hinged, couldn't you use a rope on a spring-loaded coiler? You could probably arrange it to have a peg on top of the horizontally mounted coiling device which engages in a spiral groove so that as the rope is uncoiled the peg moves to the outside of the coiler. A simple arrangement with a bar which the peg will hit clamped adjustably to a rail could preset how long the rope should extend so that it caters for people of many different sizes.
||Of course, using a rope would lose some manouverability and stopping might be a problem.
||In regards to both the original idea and [8th]'s subtle
reference, this sounds like a real ankle-biter. A vital
accessory might be a bright-colored warning flag on a whip
antenna for singles or stacks of smaller modules sitting low
to the floor.
||[TomP], a tether, retractable or otherwise, could become
entangled in people's legs, which could further cause those
people and the owner of the suitcase (or at least whoever's
unlucky enough to be at the non-suitcase end of the tether
when it all goes wrong) to become entangled in lawsuits.
||Two big problems..... occupies too much space on the floor and also people will trip over it, given its low profile.
||//bright-colored warning flag on a whip antenna//
||And now that I'm thinking about it, only a single module
occupies too much floor space-- but this isn't going to be
marketed to those who only take one suitcase. Stacked
modules take up an equivalent or smaller space than a
bunch of bags sitting in a row.
||This idea is almost baked, actually; the military is using
stackable wheeled hardcases much like this these days. I
couldn't find the exact product I'm thinking of on a three-
minute internet search because there's so much stuff that
resembles what I'm talking about; otherwise I would
provide a link. The specific case I have in mind is
advertised in many firearms- and off-roading-related
magazines, including one that I am looking at right now
but, alas, cannot get to, as I am under a motorcycle-
accident-related spousal prohibition against leaving the
bed/ chair/ last horizontal surface upon which she
||Anyway, this sort of thing could be adapted to the civilian
market with the addition of a couple more wheels and
some attractive vinyl graphics.
||Would be more fun if multiple units were hitched in line like a little train.
||Yes, but how would you tell the difference between baggage claim and an art installation ?
||Baggage claim serves a useful purpose.
||@Grogster, I don't see a pure skateboard mode working too well, but that got me thinking, a skateboard scooter mode would be great - see latest edit.
@pocmloc, a luggage train would seem to exacerbate the tripping problem others have mentioned, in addition to making it a bit difficult to navigate the roped-off serpentine lines into check-in & security.
@Alterother, I have surveyed luggage stores in three countries, and nobody has ever seen anything like this - I'd like to hear more about what you've seen and where I might be able to buy one! @TomP, thanks for the spell check. @xenzag, this will take less floor space than a four-dollar SmarteCarte rental, and the low profile (when pulling a single bag) is really no more of a problem than a short person carrying a standard two-wheeler with a long handle.
||I've never seen anything like it either-- that's why the bun!
I just immediately thought of the military-style things,
which are basically bullet-resistant two-wheelers with
interlocking corners, making them conveniently portable or
conveniently stackable, but not both at the same time.
They are rather like Peli-Cases, but a different brand
name. If I can reach one of my 4x4 magazines with a
flailing crutch, I'll find out what they're called and post a