Oct 6, 2022 - Technology

This AI-powered stroller can drive itself

The Ella smart stroller.

The Ella smart stroller.

An artificially intelligent stroller with hands-free cruising is the latest new gadget meant to make parents' hectic lives just a little easier.

Driving the news: The smart stroller, called Ella and made by Vancouver startup GlüxKind, is packed with parent- and caregiver-assisting tech.

  • Electric motors help get the stroller up steep roads, sidewalks, and paths, similar to how pedal-assist e-bikes turn mountains into molehills.
  • Onboard sensors watch for obstacles or dangers (like speeding cars) and alert whoever's pushing.
  • Ella can drive itself — only when there's no baby inside! — if a child wants to be held rather than strolled. (There's also a "rock-my-baby" mode, meant to soothe a restless baby or help one stay asleep even after the walk is over.)

What they're saying: "We started with the autonomous-driving-when-empty mode," says GlüxKind chief product officer and co-founder Anne Hunger. "But because of other technology that we're packing into the stroller to enable that, we can also do a lot of other things."

  • "So when the child is inside, the stroller is fully motorized going uphill, downhill, it's no effort — it's actually not pushing, it's more steering the stroller."
  • "It also doesn't run away from you if you happen to let go on a downhill, because it senses the distance to the user and has automatic braking."

Lots of other innovative parenting gadgets have recently hit or are about to hit the market, including:

  • The Nfant Thrive, which uses sensors to calculate how much a baby eats during each feeding session, and can be used to tell if different positions lead them to eat more.
  • The Keddle, a portable milk warmer from BisbeeBaby.
  • The Owlet Dream Sock, a wearable monitor that tracks babies' sleep and monitors their heart rate, wakeup frequency, and more.

Yes, but: The fanciest parenting tech is often pretty expensive — Hunger expects Ella to cost around $3,500 at first.

  • That said, the company is also considering a long-term rental option — familiar to any parent who's looked into the widely popular but pricey Snoo Smart Sleeper bassinet.

Alex's thought bubble: I don't think I'm alone in being a parent who struggles to find the balance between "I want the best possible parenting tools" and "I don't want to be broke."

  • The key, I think, is to spend your money on what you truly think will make a worthwhile difference.
  • If you live in hilly San Francisco, for instance — or if you or a loved one could use some help pushing a stroller around — the Ella's motor-assist tech could be a big help.

What's next: GlüxKind is accepting pre-orders for the Ella stroller while planning for a wider push around CES 2023 in January, Hunger says.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to show Hunger expects Ella to cost around $3,500 at launch, not $1,000.

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