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Not your typical running companion: Puma introduces a robotic pacer, the BeatBot

Puma has introduced a robotic device, the BeatBot, that acts as a personal running companion and helps a runner stay on pace during a workout.

Puma BeatBot

Puma’s latest innovation in running technology looks to be a mix between a remote control car and a shoebox. The Puma BeatBot is “a programmable, self-driving, line-following robot” that gives runners a visual target to beat and acts as one’s very own pacer.

Runners have the ability to enter their desired pace and distance which gets programmed into the BeatBot. The BeatBot then takes off and travels at a constant speed to help keep the runner’s pace in check. It’s basically a robotic running companion.

The BeatBot is able to follow the lines of a 400m track with the use of nine infrared sensors and the robotic, personal assistant also includes a pair of GoPro cameras to review footage of one’s run.

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The BeatBot even has the capability of keeping up with the world’s fastest man, Jamaican Usain Bolt, who tops out at approximately 44 km/h. The 29-year-old holds the world record in the men’s 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay. He’s also won all six Olympic events he’s raced including the three sprint events (100, 200 and 4×100) at the Beijing and London Games in 2008 and 2012.

“We found a lot of anecdotal evidence that head-to-head competition raised performance levels, even a few studies that showed an uptick performance,” says Florent Imbert, executive director of the ad agency which introduced the product. “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.”

Unfortunately, the BeatBot is not yet available to the public though it’s accessible to Puma-sponsored athletes, a crop which includes two high-profile Canadian athletes. There’s also no listed price tag on the item yet, though it’s believed to be pricey.

The newest athlete to join the Puma team is Canadian Sarah Wells, a two-time medallist at the Pan Am Games. She joins fellow Canadian Andre De Grasse as a Puma-sponsored athlete ahead of the Rio Olympic Games in August.

Interestingly, there’s also a very similar product that incorporates similar technology as the BeatBot without the use of a self-driving robot. Trackpacer involves LED lighting on the inside lane of a 400m track that acts as a pacer.

A short Trackpacer demo can be found below:

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