Puma Introduces BeatBot, A Robot Possibly Faster Than Usain Bolt

Puma has introduced a new, robotic assistant that is said to help running performance.

Called the Beatbot, it is a training tool that is designed 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 idea behind such a bot is that Fitbit trackers are becoming more and more obsolete. The performance of any given individual would be increased if they had a physical representation of an obstacle 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.”

Additionally, Imbert let it be known that there was a study done to back his feelings on a physical motivator versus a Fitbit-like device.

“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 stated. “But to us, it felt like a human truth.”

To accentuate the experience, the Beatbot is designed to follow lines. This creates the scenario of track running, giving runners an ideal experience against the bot and its various functions. Its design is set to use nine infrared sensors, a platform for navigation, rear LED lights that will allow it to remain visible, and even a GoPro camera that is mounted to record the bot’s run for future study. It doesn’t appear to be difficult to use; an app is set in place to program the Beatbot. A given user will be able to enter a certain distance, as well as giving the Beatbot a certain time to run.

According to The Verge, the BeatBot is able to maintain world record speeds. It is allegedly even able to match the speed of Usain Bolt, the proclaimed fastest man alive. Bolt also weighed in on the Beatbot, with speculations rising that it would be able to beat his speed.

“Good luck with that,” Bolt states.

The outer design of the Beatbot is simple enough. Yahoo! reports that the bot resembles a shoe box with RC car wheels. It’s inner workings, however, appeared to be a different challenge for its developers. Florent Imbert discussed the issue of the Beatbot running a line while attempting 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.”

The biggest downside to the Beatbot, it seems, is that it is not available to the public. The Verge reports that the production of the current model comes at a high cost. That being said, the Puma Beatbot is only available to Puma athletes, teams, and other individuals. Imbert provided comment on this, as well.

“The plan is always to develop new models, product, and ideas to inspire every athlete.”

It’s been said that perhaps others will come up with a model that is similar, giving an edge to those who desire to increase their performance. As pricey as it appears, the development process could be replicated to give access to athletes and trainers outside of the sphere of Puma’s intended Beatbot audience. It remains to be seen if any plans are being made to produce a device similar at a lower cost at this time.

How do you feel about the accessibility of the Puma Beatbot? Do you feel that this could eventually replace the Fitbit devices and provide a greater accessibility to improvement? Let us know in the comments.

[Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images]