The Puma BeatBot is the ultimate training partner. It never tires, complains or skips a workout. It can run at any speed, from the exact pace of Usain Bolt's world record 100-meter sprint to whatever time you need to run your next 400-meter repeat. Developed by NASA engineers and MIT students, this shoebox-sized robot-on-wheels just might be the perfect running companion.
Using a smart phone app, you set the distance and time you want to run. Place the robot on a track, and its nine infrared sensors follow the lane lines, making 100 steering adjustments per second to stay on course. At the same time, sensors measuring wheel revolutions maintain the perfect pace for the specified distance.
In place of a starter's gun, the BeatBox emits three countdown beeps to announce the start. Rows of LED lights make the BeatBot easy to see, and forward- and backward-facing onboard GoPro cameras provide critical video analysis of your mechanics.
The Puma BeatBot is part rabbit. The advantages of running with a pacer, or rabbit, are well documented. Roger Bannister used them to run the first sub-four-minute mile. Pacers simply allow sprinters and runners to follow or keep pace during a race. Letting someone or something else worry about how fast you are running frees you to focus on other aspects of your race, like sprint mechanics and breathing.
The Puma BeatBot would be perfect to use for drag race 40's. This workout involves running a 40-Yard Dash against another athlete. Using 40-Yard Dash NFL Combine times, I can drag race my favorite player from any position by simply entering their time in the BeatBot and stepping onto the track.
I won't be winning any drag races against the fastest athletes in the NFL any time soon, but the training potential and challenges you can create with a Puma BeatBot are limitless.
Puma says the BeatBot is cost-prohibitive for consumers and not available for sale. It is currently only available to select Puma-sponsored athletes and teams.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock