Puma Beatbot

Puma Beatbot

Posted On: May 6, 2016
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The PUMA BeatBot is a programmable, self-driving, line-following robot that inspires runners of all levels to push harder by giving them a real visual target to beat, not just the time on a stopwatch.

Man versus machine may sound like a bit of cliché, but Puma is taking this concept to a whole new level.

The German shoe and sportswear company has unveiled its first running robot. Puma describes the machine as “a programmable, self-driving, line-following robot” that can push athletes to reach their maximum speed by giving them “a visual target to beat.”

The BeatBot was developed by a team of NASA robotics engineer, MIT students and Puma’s ad agency. Its state-of-the-art technology allows the tiny robot to reach incredible speeds, even matching the world’s fastest runner, Usain Bolt, and his 100-meter record of 44.6 kilometers per hour (27.7 MPH).

JWT New York executive creative director Florent Imbert says the inspiration behind the creation of BeatBot is simple – humans simply perform better when competing against someone or something.

“We found a lot of anecdotal evidence that head to head competition raised performance levels, even a few studies that showed an uptick performance,” Imbert added.

Think of the mechanical rabbits that dogs chase during competition – the BeatBot is a bit similar in concept, only smarter, by a huge lot.

The device is easy to use. Runners simply need to input the distance they want to cover and the speed they want to go and the BeatBot will happily oblige. By laying the tiny robot on the field, it probes and trails the line on a track using its nine infrared sensors. The BeatBot also has rear LED lights that allows runners to see the robot even in their peripheral vision. GoPro cameras are attached on the front and back of the machine to record the athlete’s performance during the race. In addition, Puma said the BeatBox data is processed in real time and the machine is capable of making more than 100 maneuvers per second to keep itself on track at the desired pace of the athlete.

BeatBot will only be available for Puma’s sponsored teams and athletes, however, at least for now. Imbert says that the current cost involved in developing the machine is too high for the average runner to train with, but Puma is continuously improving the model and designing a more affordable version of the product for the general public.