Skip to main content

Puma built a fast robot to race fast humans

Puma built a fast robot to race fast humans


robots are everywhere

Share this story

If you're an athlete sponsored by Puma, you're about to get a new toy. The shoe company partnered with ad agency J. Walter Thompson New York to create the Puma BeatBot, a self-driving robot built to help runners train. The BeatBot, which looks like a rolling shoebox with LED lights, can trace a perfect line around a track at world record speeds to help give professional runners a physical target to chase down.

"We found a lot of anecdotal evidence that head to head competition raised performance levels, even a few studies that showed an uptick performance," Florent Imbert, JWT New York's executive creative director told Fast Company. "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."

The BeatBot uses nine infrared sensors to maintain its course around the track, making over 100 adjustments per second to stay on course, with rear and front-mounted GoPo cameras that will allow runners to review their training. Imbert says the BeatBot is too expensive to produce on a larger scale, but Puma-sponsored athletes like Usain Bolt — and probably Rihanna because Rihanna gets what Rihanna wants — will have full access to the device.