For track and field athletes, chasing a personal best can sometimes seem unachievable in training. Sure, you're racing the clock or listening to your coach, but without someone driving you to push harder and run faster, that competitive edge just isn't there.
To solve that "problem," for athletes, Puma just unveiled BeatBot, "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," according to the company's press release.
How it works:
Developed by a dream team consisting of a NASA robotics engineer, a trio of MIT students, and Puma's ad agency, BeatBot "runs" by following the lines around a track with the help of nine infared sensors that make over 100 micro-maneuvers a second to navigate bends and stay on track—literally and figuratively. All you have to do is enter the time and distance of the race you want to tackle, place BeatBot on the starting line of a track—and go. The wheel revolutions track speed and distance.
What it’s useful for:
BeatBot acts as your pacer, allowing you to complete interval workouts with absolute consistency, race against your own best time, and chase your desired personal best (say hello to a sub 6-minute mile). BeatBot reaches top speeds of 27.7 mph, so, yes, you can even try to go up against Usain Bolt’s record-shattering 100m dash time of 9.58 seconds. Or, at the very least you can marvel at it.
There are front and rear GoPro cameras so you can review your run and check your form, and LED lights at the rear as well so you can always see BeatBot in your peripheral vision. Though ideally BeatBot will be left in your dust.
Note: As of now, BeatBot is exclusively available to Puma athletes, but the company plans to roll BeatBot out over the year to various athletic programs worldwide.
Here's a look at BeatBot in action: