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Power Transportation Technology

Airlines Restrict 'Smart Luggage' Over Fire Hazards Posed By Batteries (npr.org) 108

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: Airlines including American, Delta and Alaska have announced restrictions on so-called smart luggage because the lithium-ion batteries found in many of these suitcases pose a fire risk. "Beginning Jan. 15, customers who travel with a smart bag must be able to remove the battery in case the bag has to be checked at any point in the customer's journey. If the battery cannot be removed, the bag will not be allowed," American said in a statement on Friday. The same day, Delta and Alaska announced similar policies on their flights.

American's policy dictates that if the bag is carry-on size, passengers can take the luggage onboard, so long as the battery can be removed if needed. If passengers need to check the bag, the battery must be removed and carried onboard. But if the bag has a non-removable battery, it can't be checked or carried on. An FAA spokesman told The Washington Post that the airlines' policies are "consistent with our guidance that lithium-ion batteries should not be carried in the cargo hold."

Airlines Restrict 'Smart Luggage' Over Fire Hazards Posed By Batteries

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  • Can those bags use battery types other than Li-Ion? A few alkaline AA batteries should be enough to power a transmitter that takes a GPS reading and "squawks" location over the cell network every hour or so.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      But two AA batteries aren't enough to power it to constantly download a list of shops that sell lattes and sushi and automatically direct the owner to one if they pass within 20m of one and have not purchased a latte or sushi for 6 hours or more, nor can it keep up with Amazon's list of beard maintenance products and send purchase recommendations to the user every 13 minutes.

      Captcha: voyager

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, 2017 @08:33AM (#55694475)

        This is why I use that hosts file tool fromAPK on my smart luggage. Kernel level speed and great protection to keep my luggage running at peak efficiency! My luggage has never been more secure!

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Bluetooth Low Energy uses 15 mA. You also need a little extra for the microchip as well. Coin cell batteries store about 250mAh. At that rate you only get about 15 hours of use (and the most common CR2032 type is still lithium anyway). That's enough for the airline to put a disposable tag on the luggage for all but a few long haul trips (ie not UK-Australia). But it's not practical for something built into the case. AA alkaline batteries do better at 1500-3000mAh so one battery could run for a week. That's

        • You don't need to run it continuously. If it comes on for 10-15 seconds every 3 minutes, that's all you need. I'm not sure what good Bluetooth would be anyway - that can't transmit GPS coordinates. Wouldn't it be LTE? Bluetooth could only tell you your baggage is on the carousel - not that it was on another plane.

    • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

      Can those bags use battery types other than Li-Ion? A few alkaline AA batteries should be enough to power a transmitter that takes a GPS reading and "squawks" location over the cell network every hour or so.

      One of those "smart bags" https://travelmaterobotics.com... [travelmaterobotics.com] is effectively an autonomous vehicle* that homes in on your smart phone and follows you around. I doubt that a few Alkaline batteries would suffice for that concept.

      *I was dumbstruck by the promotional video on that site. Its has a huge amount of gratuitous sex themed iconography including a close up of a woman's chest as she takes off her leather jacket in order to stow it in this bag.

      I was also dumbstruck by the announcement on the page as well

      • by pahles ( 701275 )

        a close up of a woman's chest

        You must be new to the internet... Seriously: she took of her jacket, what did you expect to see? And you cannot really call that a close up.

        • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

          a close up of a woman's chest

          You must be new to the internet...

          Seriously: she took of her jacket, what did you expect to see? And you cannot really call that a close up.

          The video framed her chest and excluded above and below. That's a closeup.

          • Watch the video again, she was 'framed' from the waist up. Her head was in the shot, as well as a space above her head. The video may be stupid and self-indulgent, but certainly not the sex show you claim.

            • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

              Watch the video again, she was 'framed' from the waist up. Her head was in the shot, as well as a space above her head. The video may be stupid and self-indulgent, but certainly not the sex show you claim.

              OK I mis-remembered .. so sue me. But it is still a close up.

              But what does a close up of the act of a woman taking her jacket off serve to sell a suitcase?
              And why do we need to see her swishing her hair about?
              And what *is* iconography?

      • Its has a huge amount of gratuitous sex themed iconography including a close up of a woman's chest as she takes off her leather jacket in order to stow it in this bag.

        Err....so, you're saying you would rather look at a guys chest in the video....???

        • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

          Its has a huge amount of gratuitous sex themed iconography including a close up of a woman's chest as she takes off her leather jacket in order to stow it in this bag.

          Err....so, you're saying you would rather look at a guys chest in the video....???

          Congratulations on your brand new bouncing baby logical fallacy. Is it your first for the day?

        • Err....so, you're saying you would rather look at a guys chest in the video....???

          Of course not. Don't be ridiculous. He's clearly saying he would rather look at a guys ass in the video.

      • One of those "smart bags" https://travelmaterobotics.com... [travelmaterobotics.com] is effectively an autonomous vehicle* that homes in on your smart phone and follows you around.

        I want the kind with the legs.

      • Honestly they should have gotten someone with nicer looking lower legs. She has no ankles.

        • Honestly they should have gotten someone with nicer looking lower legs.

          She has no ankles.

          She has "cankles"??

          (That's where you can't tell where the calf ends and the ankle begins.....)

          ;)

    • RFID tags [atlasrfidstore.com] are available in active and passive types.

      The passive variety requires no battery on the item being tracked, but its range is limited at 10' to 600', depending on the type of reader.

      Active RFID tags broadcast their signal at predetermined intervals, but require an onboard battery. Some manufacturers are using lithium-thionyl chloride batteries, which may skirt the new regulations.

    • This is talking more about bags like g-ro, which are advertised as being able to charge your devices. Specific to the g-ro, it tie really just a pouch for a battery brick with integrated cables that theoretically make it easier to charge. I don’t think they are talking about things like Tile, which you can use to track your bag.

    • I like the idea of using 60 pounds of lead acid batteries. You need to have heavy duty dolly wheels on the luggage, but boy does it give those goons in TSA and the baggage thieves out on the concourse a workout.

    • For that use case, a plain old GPS tracker would be much cheaper. The main difference that speaks for integration is the use as a large powerbank and that calls for battery capacity and we're back at the Li-Ion

    • is my hoverboard bad.

  • to purchase an iPhone.
  • WTF is "smart luggage"?
    Why would I want it?
    Is it even useful anymore if you have to take the battery out of it when traveling?

    • I personally don't see the need for it, as most people with the money to get Smart Luggage will already have their phone handy on them. I also use this excuse for these smart speakers like Echo, and a similar argument with the Smart Watches. One Smart device is good enough for me.
       

      • My smart watch sends out an audible alarm if I wander out of range of my smart phone. It's to protect me from forgetting my phone somewhere and becoming untrackable. It could become dangerous, like 1988 was, if I am unable to immediately make an emergency call any time I need to.

        • Your watch isnt very smart. Even Chinese phone watches from six years ago have standalone calling capability.

          • I'm not sure that's a feature. Bluetooth LE uses far less battery than LTE and most cell companies charge an additional monthly fee to have another device connected to the network.

      • "I personally don't see the need for it, as most people with the money to get Smart Luggage will already have their phone handy on them"

        Me neither. I send my luggage in a steel container to and from the hotel with UPS, no hassle at all.

    • by adosch ( 1397357 )

      AGREED, 100%. Wow. My definition of 'smart luggage' is a smart airline employee or 'the system' not 1) playing soccer with my bag, 2) forgetting to get it on the right end-route path and 3) getting it to the final destination in one piece. That's it. That's smart luggage to me.

    • Yeah, I'm old too. I must be super-old, because I still expect news outlets to tell me stuff like that, perhaps by something as antiquated as a hyperlink to a product page, or wikipedia or something.

      I did some googling and found this company: https://www.raden.com/ [raden.com] - even they don't seem to know what 'smart luggage' is, because their home page says almost nothing of any use. "Location awareness, proximity sensors leverage bluetooth technology" - say what now?

      As far as I can tell, it's a normal case, but it'

    • >WTF is "smart luggage"?

      I have no idea but...

      >Why would I want it?

      Imagine a proximity alert to your phone or smart watch so if somebody tries to steal it while you're distracted, you get a notification. Perhaps with GPS in case they initially get away from you.

      Imagine a similar alarm on the zippers and pockets, so if someone tries to open your luggage, you know about it.

      Maybe hide a small camera in there that takes photos when the bag is opened, so you can have evidence of that TSA bastard stealing y

      • by cjjjer ( 530715 )
        Most of what is being called "Smart Luggage" is just luggage that has a rechargeable battery pack incorporated into it with a couple of USB ports on it. However there are are other options to them http://www.travelandleisure.co... [travelandleisure.com]
      • So it has an integrated Tile beacon [thetileapp.com] in it? That, plus a switch (open/close sensor) would to it all!
        • Huh. If you're OK with Bluetooth range limitations, you can go on Aliexpress and get tags for under $2 each that you can remotely set to beep and blink with your smartphone.

          And, apparently, the app tags them so you can select which particular item you want, and notes the last known location so you can look it up on your map app and know where to start looking. (Not so useful in my most common scenario, it's not like it'll tell me which room in my house to go to, but great for letting me know if I left some

    • It is luggage where just the piece of luggage takes up 1/4 or more of your weight allowance.
      • To be fair, these bags are toys for the rich due to their cost. The people who can afford these bags can easily afford overweight bag fees, and often fly in first class where you are allowed, on paper, to carry bags of infinite mass.*

        *Obviously nobody has tried to pack a carry-on-sized solid billet of lead yet.

        • 'Obviously nobody has tried to pack a carry-on-sized solid billet of lead yet.'

          Well, being rich, they would obviously be carrying gold; which is also denser than load.

    • by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Thursday December 07, 2017 @08:52AM (#55694585) Journal

      WTF is "smart luggage"?

      It seems to be an implementation of Discworld's "The Luggage" but with wheels not legs and hopefully without the homicidal tendencies...although perhaps that's why it needs to be banned.

    • Could mean that the tsa will steal it after being inspected - not a bomb - then it goes to wherever your shady tsa staff 'sell' stuff to.

    • Yeah, you're old. There's this new thing called "Google" that lets you find information about pretty much anything. :P

      (I suppose you could argue that the information should have been included in the summary. I don't really think that was necessary, though. All you really needed to know was that someone has begun building luggage with computers and batteries built in, and the FAA has a problem with it. The details of what the smart luggage does don't really matter.)

      WTF is "smart luggage"?

      Well, the top result on a web search foun

      • by Malc ( 1751 )

        Sounds like a waste of money gimic. Will they make the case robustness enough to survive the way airlines and airports treat out baggage?

        • Sounds like a waste of money gimic. Will they make the case robustness enough to survive the way airlines and airports treat out baggage?

          Well, it's carbon fiber, similar to a bag that I have. Mine has proven to be very durable.

    • Luggage that's stupid enough to catch fire.

  • It's about time they started acknowledging the risk of current lithium battery chemistry! I hope they also begun carrying a metal box to throw electronics into for each plane because the thermal runaway reaction isn't going to stop until the battery has completely burned up.

    • Excellent answer - metal box: You could even make it air proof to snuff the fire out. And connect the parachute with a long steel cable to keep flames from the parachute, And bay doors to open and drop the cargo in a safe area should things get thermally out of hand.
  • by prasadsurve ( 665770 ) on Thursday December 07, 2017 @09:15AM (#55694697)
    Can they make same requirement for Tablets and Phones so that manufacturers bring back removable batteries?
    • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

      Why? When has an airline ever prevented you from carrying your phone or tablet on-board? They do, however, sometimes prevent bags from being carried on.

  • Shouldn't they be disallowing anything with a non-removable battery, perhaps anything rated above a certain number of milliamp-hours?
    • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

      All Li-ion batteries are prohibited from being in checked luggage (they can be carried on). The difference with bags is that sometimes, for whatever reason, your 'carry-on' can not be carried on, and they check it for you at the gate. This could be because the bag is too large, or there isn't enough room, or for some other reason. With other devices, you just remove them before they take the bag and carry them on with you. If your BAG has a non-removable battery however, you are screwed as it can't be c

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )
        Sure, but I find it weird that they would be restricting bags with non-removable batteries that are otherwise small enough to be carried on from being brought on board but not having similar restrictions for absolutely anything with non-removable batteries.
    • by jaa101 ( 627731 )

      perhaps anything rated above a certain number of milliamp-hours?

      You mean anything rated above a certain number of joules. Otherwise the's scope to just play with the voltage to skirt the regulations and using joules also levels the playing field amongst different battery chemistries.

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )
        Fair point, although charge density in a portable device is typically more going to be more reflective of energy density in something than its voltage, even though energy is actually the product of both voltage rating and charge. In general, I would expect that manufacturers would not want to use higher voltage batteries than the minimum necessary to power consumer electronics devices anyways, in particular because it would almost certainly tend to be wasteful, and would probably also make the end-product
        • by jaa101 ( 627731 )

          I would expect that manufacturers would not want to use higher voltage batteries than the minimum necessary to power consumer electronics devices anyways

          A lithium ion cell is around 3.6V but laptop batteries are often 10.8V, i.e., three cells in series. This is despite the fact that most of the power is dissipated at much lower voltages. The reason is that, inevitably, voltage conversion is required and DC-DC conversion always loses at least a fraction of a volt. 0.3V is a small penalty at 10.8V but a large one at 3.6V. Another issue is that lower voltages mean proportionately higher currents (amps) for the same power requirements and that mean very hea

          • by mark-t ( 151149 )
            Obviously you have to have your device voltage at a rating high enough to offer sufficient power at whatever amperage is applicable to the physical attributes of the device, but in general one is probably not going to go too much higher than that. The more voltage you have to cut out from your main power source as you drop the voltage down to the actual required voltage level, the more energy you are going to tend to waste as heat when it passes through the voltage regulator circuitry, which drastically s
  • by WheezyJoe ( 1168567 ) <feggNO@SPAMexcite.com> on Thursday December 07, 2017 @09:47AM (#55694881)

    There's too many battery things to just prohibit them all. Prohibit them from the luggage compartment, but for the cabin, have aircraft include a small airlock so cabin crew can take your self-destructing phone or tablet or shoe-bomb and just chuck the thing overboard. Include disposable heat-resistant bags with little self-deploying parachutes to quickly distance it from the aircraft and so that some unlucky sod doesn't get killed when the flaming thing hits the ground.

    • So re-engineer every existing plane in the US? Fucking brilliant there. I'll let you suggest that to the airlines and the FAA.
    • It is a lot easier to just have a few CO2 extinguishers on the plane and hit whatever is on fire with an extinguisher ASAP. The cabin may stink for the rest of the flight, but that is the quickest, safest way to put out something on fire.

  • What does it do, tell you when your underwear is dirty?

  • The experience of flying in commercial flights has never been overly pleasant. However, starting about twenty years ago it started to deteriorate even further, and today it has become a shameless race to the bottom. Airlines seem to be competing on the basis of who can inflict more nonsense and misery on passengers, while still getting away with making money. Hopefully, at some point the tide will turn - but that is unlikely to happen any time soon.
    • What a time to live in. Flying sucks more than using public transportation, luggage gets smarter as people get dumber.
    • Gee, I wonder what happened "about twenty years ago" that made flying worse? You sure it wasn't about 16 years ago? Like maybe starting on September 11, 2001?
    • However, starting about twenty years ago it started to deteriorate even further, and today it has become a shameless race to the bottom.

      Good. 20 years ago the thought of a flight to another country being less than the cost of the train to the airport was a fantasy. Now I basically do weekend trips all over the continent for less than the cost of a night out where I am going.

      Keep the race going, this has been great.

  • non-removable battery = no apple stuff

  • Basically the only thing I see happening is people getting really pissed off if they check their luggage at the counter and it never shows up at their destination. Anything brought through security is deemed, well, "secure" so gate checking them isn't going to result in another screening. The airlines banning them from carry-on and checked will be able to do jackshiat about the former.

    It's like having the stewardess check to make sure every phone is off before the flight leaves and makes about as much se
  • As I recall, the reason they need the batteries in the passenger area is so if suddently a fire starts, you can grab it and "deal with it". Also they say fires are much more rare when the battery is in the device, and not just loose in luggage. I think the most common fires are when you have a few batteries loose in a bag and they touch something that allows a circuit to complete.

  • Sounds like the airlines don't want people to find out where all of the lost luggage goes!
  • consistent with our guidance that lithium-ion batteries should not be carried in the cargo hold

    This is why I fill my luggage with flow batteries and rent out charging ports to other passengers. I just fly back and forth between LAX and JFK/LGA, it more than pays for the trip.

  • Now what am I going to do with my ride-on luggage! I guess I'll give up my plan to upgrade the motor and batteries to get up to 40mph going through the terminal...
  • This is what happens when your economy has run out of useful things to make but your economic model requires constant growth: fucking smart luggage.

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