Although pushing a baby in a stroller is easier than carrying it, the Ella is designed to make things even easier, with electric-assist motors, a Hands-Free mode, and various other "smart" features.
Powering the two rear wheels, motors provide an electric boost when the parent is pushing the stroller uphill. They also offer a braking-assist function, keeping the stroller from careening downhill when descending slopes.
Better yet, if the parent has their hands full - such as if they wish to carry their infant for a while - the stroller can autonomously move along the sidewalk on its own, keeping pace with them. In this mode, it uses a suite of onboard 360-degree sensors to follow the sidewalk and avoid obstacles, while staying within arm's reach of the user by detecting the proximity of their smartphone.
All very helpful, but perhaps the best feature is for when the parent stops for a break, as they can put Ella into Rock-My-Baby mode, wherein it in gently rolls forward and backward, essentially "rocking the cradle." The stroller also has a built-in white noise generator, to further lull infants to sleep.
Other features include a parking brake, a lower storage basket for things like groceries and diapers, a removable bassinet for babies, and a car-seat-compatible "Smart Seat" for toddlers. A retractable vented sunshade protects li'l occupants from the sun, with extendable netting adding protection from mosquitos.
Finally, an accompanying app makes it possible to check on the stroller's whereabouts at all times.
Ella is made by a Canadian company called Glüxkind, which takes its name from an approximation of the German word that means 'lucky child'. Prospective buyers can reserve an Ella now, by placing a CAD$200 (about US$149) deposit via the Glüxkind website. Total purchase price starts at US$3,300.
Is there really a market for $3,300 self-driving strollers? The depressing answer is: yes, very much so. Strollers aren’t just transportation tools, after all, they have become status symbols. Bugaboos used to be the “it” stroller; now upmarket neighbourhoods are full of $1,900 UppaBaby travel systems. Maybe in a few years the Ella will have usurped the UppaBaby as the bougie buggy of choice.
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