Mobi Bags Toyota Material Handling Design Contest

February 26, 2021

In July 2016, Toyota Material Handling North America (TMHNA) announced the premiere of the TMHNA University Research Program, a sponsored research program created to drive the next generation of technologies for the entire supply chain, logistics and material handling industry.

The program received outstanding response, with application proposals from leading universities across North America.

After evaluating a competitive set of applications, TMHNA has selected three proposals to award funding:

Applying Location-based Informatics, Simulation and Optimization Methods to Forklift Driver Behavior, Congestion and Wireless Charging Studies

Participating Universities: State University of New York at Binghamton; University of South Florida

The Impact of Emerging Logistics Paradigms on Material Handling System Functional Requirements

Participating Universities: Clemson University; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; University of California, Berkeley; University of Arkansas

Data-driven Failure Predictive Analytics for Internet of Things (IoT) enabled Service Systems

Participating University: University of Wisconsin-Madison

“These universities have presented projects that can help foster innovation for the growth of our industry and the warehouses of the future,” said Brett Wood, president and chief executive officer for Toyota Material Handling North America. “We look forward to seeing what this funding and collaboration will allow these universities to accomplish, and the positive impacts their research could have on driving the future of our industry.”

The winner doesn’t take it all.

Perhaps not surprising as they received close to 2,400 entries from 123 countries around the world. It was a tough job picking the right ones.

The occupiers of the top slot are Batuhan Yildirin and Sena Tasli, recent graduates from Ankara’s TOBB University, in Turkey. Their suggestion on how to make airport baggage handling fly is tantamount to a revolution. The First Prize winner Mobi concept means you don’t even have to bother with your own suitcase!

Second Prize was copped by Kevin Wong of California State University, Long Beach, USA. His entry is a self-automated baggage trolley system. Airtro is built on a solar-powered modular platform.

Uliss won Third Prize for Natthorn Uliss of King Mongkut’s University in Thonbury, Thailand. Apart from being strikingly smart looking, Uliss is a mobile system that offers travellers perfect flexibility.

New this time around is a Public Award. Winner is Dóra Tarcsi of Moholy-Nagy University in Budapest, Hungary. Her Locker invention was selected at the Logiconomi event in Amsterdam, in 2019.

“Amazing!”, was Batuhan Yildirin’s immediate reaction when he and Sena Tasli, both graduates from Ankara’s TOBB University of Economics and Engineering, found out they were one of four winners at the 2020 Toyota Logistic Design Competition. “And it’s the first international design competition we’ve ever participated in!” Batuhan and Sena’s concept – Mobi – challenges the way we know airport baggage handling today. For starters, the traveller doesn’t even need to bother with a suitcase! 

Batuhan and Sena’s Mobi invention starts by sending the traveller an empty piece of luggage to be packed by the passenger. The bag is subsequently picked up by the service and taken to the airport to be loaded on the same plane as the passenger. Also new is the fact that the traveller won’t see his or her bag after it’s been picked up. Nor does she or he have to bother waiting at the baggage carousel. Mobi ultimately delivers the luggage to the passenger’s destination address.

“We wanted to create a good user experience”, said Batuhan when I asked him how they came up with the Mobi concept. They wanted to relieve the passenger from the taxing waiting game, both at the airport where the journey begins, and where it ends. The efficiency of baggage handling will also be improved by using Mobi’s standardized bags that come in three different sizes. “And there’ll be no need for the passenger even to own a suitcase”, said Batuhan, and argued that for the most part suitcases are just sitting there in your house, taking up a lot of space, and are seldom used.

When I talked to Batuhan, over the internet, in his office tucked away somewhere in the Turkish capital of Ankara, he apologized that Sena wasn’t able to participate in the interview as she was away.

Saving people’s lives.

He also told me that he’d launched a startup – Kavi Design and Engineering Agency – while he was still at TOBB, whose aim is to develop “products that will save people’s lives in emergency situations”. One example is a survival kit for earthquake victims, “because they say there may be a big earthquake in the Istanbul area, in about five to ten years”.

“The main purpose here is to be able to respond quickly to accidents at sea, and save people’s lives.”

Another example is an autonomous and remotely controlled underwater vehicle. “The main purpose here”, said Batuhan, “is to be able to respond quickly to accidents at sea, and save people’s lives”, he explained. The third and most recent project involves a kind of wind turbine. “It’s meant for campers and in places where electricity can’t be provided. It’ll deliver enough power for one to two people.” I enquired whether they’d been able to sell any of their inventions yet. “Not yet”, laughed Batuhan. But the Toyota award may, of course, be a push in the right direction for Kavi. 

This year the ever-growing Logistic Design Competition attracted close to 2,400 entries from 123 countries all around the world. The 2020 award winners come from countries as diverse as Thailand and Hungary, as well as the United States, and Turkey.

The kid loved planes.

What made Batuhan go into design? “Oh, first of all it was to do with aviation. When I was a kid I used to make model planes”, said Batuhan, “and I loved watching documentaries about construction and advanced vehicles on television”. Turkish Airlines was voted Airline of the Year not long ago, I seem to remember. Maybe they’ll take a shine to Kavi Design now that the agency is picking up an international design award.

I asked Batuhan whether he saw themselves working more on the conceptual side of design rather than the execution. “It’s primarily the conceptual aspect as we don’t have the facilities for manufacturing”, Batuhan said. “It’s conceptual design up to the stage of developing a prototype. We’re using tools like 3-D printing for that.”

Apparently, the Turkish government is investing in design, and new design studios. So, did Batuhan think there were good opportunities for recent design graduates in Turkey. Batuhan said: “Industrial design is a pretty new phenomenon, here.” But, he said, “opportunities for product designers in Turkey look good”.

By way of concluding the interview Batuhan was anxious to express his gratitude to “all the members of the jury.” I couldn’t imagine a happier award winner.

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