Want to get faster at running? Conventional wisdom says you need someone to race against. Training with faster runners can give athletes the competitive boost they need to hit faster speeds. If you're lucky enough to belong to a large running club, you can probably join the faster crowd once a week to accomplish this goal. But what if you don't have access to faster runners? A new robot from Puma might become your new best friend.
The BeatBot doesn't just track your fitness, it gives you incentive to beat it. It's not just wearable tech, it's raceable tech.
BeatBot was developed by a team of NASA robotics engineers, MIT students and executives from Puma, a German shoe and fitness apparel company. Puma describes the BeatBot as "a programmable, self-driving, line-following robot" that helps runners achieve new speeds by giving them "a visual target to beat." The tiny robot has nine sensors that allow it to track straight or curved lines along the road, so it's perfect for use at the track. And it can be programmed to travel at a wide range of paces with top speeds matching Olympian Usain Bolt's 100-meter dash world record of 44.7 km/h (27.4 mph).
Now that's fast.
LED lights along the BeatBot's front and back let users keep the robot in their peripheral vision while they run. And built in GoPro cameras even record your run while you race. All you need to do is program the BeatBot to tell it how fast and how far you want to go. And then run like heck to try to keep up.
For now, the BeatBot will only be available for Puma's sponsored teams and athletes, but the company hopes to develop a more affordable version for regular runners to use down the road.
Think you've got what it takes to beat Usain Bolt? With the BeatBot, you may soon find out.