Self-Driving Stroller Raises Safety Concerns Among Experts—Here's Why

Take your child for a ride

  • Some experts say you should be wary of a new self-driving stroller. 
  • The Ella stroller is designed only to drive itself when it has no occupant. 
  • Ella can ferry groceries when it doesn’t have a child inside.
A parent playing with a child in a stroller on an empty street.

Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

Your child's next stroller may drive itself, and some experts say that could be cause for concern. 

Gluxkind recently showed off its Ella AI-Powered Smart Stroller at this year's Consumer Electronics Show. The stroller can navigate by itself without needing a human to guide it when it's not carrying a tiny passenger. It's a sign of the growing interest in self-driving vehicles. 

"I would expect constant AI training in this field, especially if manufacturers eventually hope to make a system that self-strolls with a child inside," Kevin Gordon, the vice president of AI Technologies at NexOptic, which develops image enhancement software for vision devices, including the cameras found in self-driving vehicles, told Lifewire in an email interview. "We're not talking about a robot vacuum. We're talking about a device that transports precious cargo. When it comes to our kids, parents will demand safety first."

The Tesla of Strollers?

The new stroller, priced at $3,300, includes environmental danger alerts, intelligent braking, and 360-degree monitoring. The Ella has adaptive push and brake assistance, intended to make pushing the stroller easier. 

"With baby soothing features like Rock-My-Baby mode to help the little ones stay asleep or built-in White Noise playback, Ella is there to give parents almost a nanny-like experience," the company wrote in a news release

Iliya Rybchin, a partner at Elixirr Consulting, said via email that the high-tech stroller is not a "serious or viable" product.  

"Putting aside the ridiculous price point for functionality that no consumer actually wants or needs, the product itself is full of buzzwords (AI, self-driving, etc.) but doesn't live up to the promises," he added. 

Self-Driving Dangers

Although the Ella is intended to only drive by itself without an occupant, it plays into the safety concerns surrounding self-driving cars like the Tesla. Tech analyst Bob Bilbruck, the CEO at Captjur, pointed out in an email interview with Lifewire that the most significant difference between a stroller and a car is an automobile driving on roads that have laws while a stroller does not. 

"Thus, the data the AI is analyzing to operate the stroller is going to be a much wider perimeter, and this may lead to errors in operation and accidents," he added. "Also, our child is our greatest asset, and the margin of error with them is much less than what we expect from a car or driving on a highway."

But Rybchin dismissed safety issues, "as the company clearly points out that the stroller will not move when a baby is on board. It also will not move too far away from the parent, so the idea of empty strollers rolling around city streets is ridiculous."

The Glüxkind Ella Smart Stroller that's self-driving and powered by AI.


Gordon said that the most significant safety concern would be if that built-in safety feature were to fail and the stroller began to operate independently or out of control. "Also, the idea that parents will purposefully circumvent the safety features is a red flag," he added. "I would also be concerned that the automatic brake system would fail during the self-drive mode, and a sudden runaway stroller would cause an accident."

Despite his concerns, Gordon said he'd be interested in using a self-driving stroller just as long as it wasn't fully autonomous. "But for this particular middle-ground application, I think it's great," he added. "It fulfills the duty of a stroller while adding additional functionality. We can't discount having an additional set of eyes (such as a danger alert system) or freeing up our hands to concentrate on our children (they keep us busy enough!). Strollers also act as cargo carriers, so having mobility assistance with groceries and baby equipment is interesting."

Bilbruck said he's not ready to entrust his children to a self-driving stroller. "Five years from now, sure," he added. "Any first-generation technology without proof of ample testing and some kind of protocols to assure safety, probably not. Your children are your greatest assets in this world, and the technology better is bulletproof—also, is it worth the risk and saving the effort of just pushing the stroller? Have we really become this lazy as a society?"

Looking for more 2023 CES coverage? Check out all of Lifewire's CES news right here.

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