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NikeTown London Pilots B.I.L.L., A Sneaker-Repair Robot

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NIKE, Inc.’s mission of improved sustainability has recently developed B.I.L.L. (Bot Initiated Longevity Lab), a robot-augmented system designed to clean and repair some of the brand’s most popular sneakers.

Unveiled at NikeTown London, B.I.L.L. is free to customers, joining initiatives like Nike Recycling & Donation, Nike Refurbished and tutorial videos aimed at extending the life of footwear for a more circular future. At launch, the platform – which combines advanced robotics, old-school hand craft, water-based cleaning products and recycled polyester patches for its repair process – works with the Air Jordan 1, Nike Air Force 1, Space Hippie 01, and Nike Dunk (trim not specified by the brand, but presumably Low, Mid and High): B.I.L.L. processes Bruce Kilgore’s “presidential” design in about 45 minutes.

Here’s how it works, according to a Nike News press release: “After loading a shoe into the robot, a three-dimensional digital model of the shoe is created, pinpointing detailed areas of cleaning on the upper, the sidewalls, and the outsole. Shoppers can then select patches to repair areas of wear-and-tear on the upper of their shoe. Once B.I.L.L. has finished with the shoes […] Nike store athletes add new liners and laces made from recycled materials.”

Insights and feedback gained during NikeTown London’s pilot will be utilized to assess the opening of the Bot Initiated Longevity Lab at other brick-and-mortar locations across the globe. It’s unlikely Air Max offerings will be able to get their bubbles fixed through the program, but the Swoosh is continuously modifying its manufacturing in order to create product more compatible with its circular initiatives.

“The thing is, maintaining old product is deeply personal,” Noah Murphy-Reinhertz, Sustainability Lead, Nike NXT. “People will go to great lengths to care for their favorite shoes. Repairing a product is a way to extend our memory with a product. We see B.I.L.L. as a tool for being able to do that. Robots can do things that are tough to do by hand, but when we used robotics as part of a recycling technology, we still want the service to be personal.”

NikeTown London is located at 236 Oxford St, London W1C 1DE, United Kingdom.

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