Puma has teamed up with ad agency J. Walter Thompson New York to develop the BeatBot robot that can outpace Usain Bolt, designed to improve an athlete’s performance.
The self-driving robot tracks the lines on a race circuit using nine infrared sensors after a runner has entered the time and distance of the race they want to take part in. The robot will then process the data in real-time, making more than 100 maneouvers per second to stay on the line.
This means it’ll start moving at a pace to motivate the runner as they try to keep up. Whether the runner wants to try and beat their personal best, their rival’s race time or even Usain Bolt’s, they can.
LED lights help the runner keep track of the robot in their peripheral vision, meaning they won’t lose concentration fully. GoPro cameras on the front and back mean you can watch the footage of your run back to improve upon your technique next time.
Puma said it collated a substantial amount of evidence to prove that head-to-head competition to boost performance because running against a clock doesn’t push athletes hard enough.
“We went through over eight prototypes, and interrogated every aspect of the robot, from the weight of the car, to the lag between the Arduino and servo. We even enlisted the expertise of a NASA robotics engineer and three MIT grads,” JWT New York executive creative director Florent Imbert told Fast Company.
At the moment, the BeatBot is only available for use by Puma-sponsored athletes and teams, but it has high hopes it may be able to develop a consumer bot in the years to come.
“While the cost of the current model makes it prohibitive for the average consumers to train with. The plan is always to develop new models, products and ideas to inspire every athlete.”