Sports apparel brands are increasingly finding ways to create wearable tech that enhances the training experience, but one new piece of technology takes that dynamic to a new level by adding robots.
The Puma BeatBot is a small, box-shaped automated device that literally races against humans to help them improve their running times.
Equipped with an accelerometer, infrared sensors that help it follow the lines on a track, an Arduino microcontroller and a front facing camera, the BeatBot counts the revolution of its wheels to track its speed and distance. According to Puma, the device uses all that data to make more than 100 adjustments per second while racing a human.
Using that real-time tracking data, the tiny robot can help long distance runners pace themselves (even on tracks with curves), and can also help sprinters push themselves to new limits. The robot is controlled using an iPhone app that lets the user set their own time and distance running goals.
Those goals can include racing against the best times of your friends or even world champions as the BeatBot is also programmed to match the speed of Olympic 100 meter champion Usain Bolt by hitting speeds of up to 44.66 kilometers per hour. Bolt himself, who has a shoe deal with Puma, makes an appearance in the BeatBot’s demonstration video (above), sitting next to the BeatBot and issuing a challenge to runners everywhere.
But while the human versus robot racing demonstration looks incredibly cool, it turns out that the BeatBot is still just a prototype at this point. There’s no way to buy it; for now, it’s only available to Puma-sponsored athletes.
Nevertheless, as a next-gen training tool, it really doesn’t get more exciting than this.