Puma Launches BeatBot, A Robot Possibly Faster Than Usain Bolt

Puma Launches BeatBot, A Robot Possibly Faster Than Usain Bolt

Puma has presented a new, robotic assistant that is said to help running performance. Called the Beatbot, it is a training tool that is considered to increase the ability of those who train with it. Yahoo! reports that this new piece of technology is the combination of Puma teaming up with J. Walter Thompson ad agency. 

The thought behind such a bot is that Fitbit trackers are turning more and more obsolete. The performance of any given individual would be increased if they had a physical representation of a difficult to race against. Florent Imbert, executive creative director for JWT New York weighed in on the matter.  

“Running against an invisible clock will never be as motivating as running against someone – or something.”

For some individuals, the RunKeeper coach's voice is sufficient to keep them motivated during a jog. Others need something physical to keep pace with. That's is the place Puma's BeatBot comes in. Developed by a NASA robotics engineer, a trio of MIT students and Puma's ad agency, the robot follows lines around a track at any pace you'd need, according to Fast Company. It can even match Usain Bolt's 2009 foot-speed world record of 44.6 KPH (27.7 MPH) in case you require something a little more motivated than an eight-minute mile.  

The robot works by checking lines on the track with an array of nine IR sensors while wheel revolutions are observed via Arduino to keep track of distance and speed. BeatBot's also prepared with LED lights on the back and dual GoPro cameras. If we guessed this would be expensive, we're right. Even though there isn't a particular price, for now, BeatBot will only be offered to Puma-sponsored teams and athletes. 

“We found a lot of anecdotal evidence that heads to head competition raised performance levels, even a few studies that showed an uptick performance,” Imbert stated. “But to us, it felt like a human truth.”

The Puma BeatBot is a small, box-shaped automated device that accurately races against humans to help them improve their running times.

Using that real-time tracking information, the tiny robot can support long distance runners pace themselves and can also help sprinters push themselves to new limits. The robot is controlled using an iPhone app that allows the user set their own particular time and distance running goals.

The outer design of the Beatbot is simple enough. Yahoo! reports that the bot looks like a shoe box with RC car wheels. Its inner workings, however, appeared to be a different challenge for its developers. Florent Imbert talks over the issue of the Beatbot running a line while trying to maintain turning without its speed being an issue.

“We went through over eight prototypes,” Imbert said. “We even enlisted the expertise of a NASA robotics engineer and three MIT grads.”

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