Its story is that of an epic battle. Mankind versus machine in a race for dominance. Only one can win.
In practice, thankfully, it’s much, much more adorable. A four-wheeled robot that looks remarkably like an RC car crossbred with a shoebox , programmed to give athletes something to race against. A sort of free-roaming robotic rabbit to their inner-greyhound.
BeatBot was created for Puma by the J. Walter Thompson ad agency — and a bunch of MIT engineers. The sporty little robot has nine built-in infrared sensors designed to follow the lines of a race track as it zips along at a pre-determined pace.
The ‘bot is capable of hitting Usain Bolt levels of speed, but runners can slow it down via a mobile app in hopes of actually having a chance against the little box, which monitors the revolution of its wheels to figure out how fast it’s going. The BeatBot also sports front- and rear-facing GoPro cameras and LED lights on its tail for easier viewing after it leaves a runner in the dust.
For now, the shoe company is only making the BeatBot available to its own athletes (such as the aforementioned Bolt), but there are plans to introduce it to a number of athletic programs later this year.