Self-Contained Motorised Wheels Could Give Us Autopilot Shopping Carts

Here’s an innovation you probably never realised you wanted until just now. Japan’s Denso corporation has created a compact, self-contained wheel that includes a motor, a battery and wireless communications allowing it to be driven and controlled remotely. The company could use it for a personal mobility device, but instead it plans to treat the world to self-driving strollers and automated shopping trolleys you never have to push.

The company recently demonstrated a couple different versions of the wheel, which can seemingly be easily attached to a shopping trolley or a stroller with a magnetic mounting system. The standard version simply rolls, so, to steer a trolley, the wheels on one side would need to move faster or slower than the wheels on the other. But the more expensive version includes an additional motor for steering the wheel, allowing its orientation to be adjusted even when it wasn’t in motion.

The motors could simply be used to make a stroller or shopping trolley easier to push, especially when loaded with babies and/or groceries. But the real appeal comes with being able to remotely operate a trolley or stroller from your smartphone. It could be set to automatically follow you around a store, or your smartphone could be used as a wireless controller, making a trip to the supermarket feel like playing a game of Mario Kart. [Denso via Tech-On!]