Why suitcases wobble

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions
wheelie suitcase image

Going this quickly should help control the suitcase gyrations © Dan Sperrin

Scientists have put their minds to the question of why suitcases misbehave and don’t go in a straight line when being pulled. When you are behind someone towing a caravan sometimes you see the caravan start to weave across the lane and it takes some knowledge to be able to get it running in the same original and safe line. Handling a suitcase is easier. You just stop and start pulling but when you are dashing along it is time you don’t want to have to spend n what seems to be your inability to handle a case.

The boffins say that you should speed up rather than slowdown in order to beat the problem. There is another solution. You can take the handle as close to the ground but let’s face it; who is going to crouch and risk potential back problems in order to do that?

This knowledge is published in not your normal bedside reading material. This is in Proceedings of the Royal Society A which covers mathematical, physical and engineering sciences.  (I tell you that in case you happen to pick up the wrong volume in your local library by mistake.) For those of you wish to follow the science, you can click here.

The tests developed by the three scientists at the University Paris-Diderot in Paris show that luggage in two-wheel, suitcases rocks from side-to-side until it falls over. Moving faster supposedly reduces the amount of swing.

I would have thought there was an easier solution than charging along faster and faster and putting the ankles of fellow passengers at risk. Either buy a four-wheel suitcase or pack the bag so tightly that the luggage cannot move around.

Or airports and railway stations and could ban them as a health and safety issue and we go back to carrying rucksacks or cases with handles! But then we would return to the days of bad backs so maybe we will need to understand the science of the suitcase.


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