Can Puma's BeatBot Motivate You To Run Faster?

The self-driving robot can even keep pace with Olympian Usain Bolt.

By Calvin Stovall | April 30, 2016

"Everyone runs faster when there's something to beat," a person said in a Puma ad.

At least, that's the logic behind Puma's new BeatBot.

Athletes can program the self-driving robot to race against them by setting the distance and time they want to beat.

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The bot is designed to make runners feel like they're competing against something. So, if world record-holder Usain Bolt wanted to race his own fastest time, he could.

It was human instinct, not scientific research, that led New York ad agency J. Walter Thompson to the idea for the BeatBot.

"We found a lot of anecdotal evidence that head-to-head competition raised performance levels," Florent Imbert said. "To us, it felt like a human truth. Running against an invisible clock will never be as motivating as running against someone — or something."

It took Puma eight prototypes to design the BeatBot, even after enlisting the help of a NASA engineer and three MIT grads.

But don't dump your running partner just yet. For now, the BeatBot is only available to Puma-sponsored teams and athletes.

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