Amazing Puma robot keeps pace with Usain Bolt

The global sports brand just unveiled a stunning new robot that helps runners train like the pros – here’s how it works.

Puma is well known for its distinctive shoes and sportswear, but the company just made an announcement that could rival some of the running world’s top training aides. According to a report from Co.Create, the company recently unveiled the Beatbot – a robot that is designed to run as fast as Usain Bolt.

They tiny bot is programmable, self-driving, and meant to lead runners around the track as they train. It’s not unlike the rabbit device used in dog racing – the robot runs ahead and challenges the runner to keep pace.

In a world where technology and fitness are increasingly intertwined, the Beatbot is one of the first products that transcends the wearable and app trend and dives right into its specific purpose. The dedicated training robot can help racers improve their time around the track, going as fast as the world-record holder’s top speed of 44km per hour.

According to Florent Imbert, the executive creative director of JWT New York, “We found a lot of anecdotal evidence that head to head competition raised performance levels, even a few studies that showed an uptick in performance. But to us, it felt like a human truth. Running against an invisible clock will never be as motivating as running against someone – or something.”

So how exactly does it work? The Beatbot follows the line on a track with nine built-in infrared sensors. The robot calculates speed and distance based on wheel revolutions, and can make as many as 100 maneuvers each second to make sure it’s staying on the track. The Beatbot can turn corners and know when it has crossed the finish line – a true track runner’s companion. And the coolest part? The stunning LED array lets you continue training throughout the night.

This is far from the first robot capable of following a line, but the Beatbot is one of the first that is able to take sharp turns at high speeds. According to Imbert, “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.”

Usain Bolt may have finally found his match, but it could still be some time before the Beatbot begins appearing on tracks around the world. According to Imbert, “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.”

The company released a promotional video depicting what a training session with the robot might look like. “Everyone runs faster when there’s something to beat,” the narrator says. The company referred to the robot as “raceable tech” – the first machine that races you as you train. The Beatbot inspires runners to push even harder as they fight to keep pace. You don’t have to set the Beatbot’s speed at the Usain Bolt level right off the bat, but it could very well lead to a new world speed record in the future.

You can check out a video of the amazing robot here.

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