US Nike launches robotic system to extend life of sneakers

US’ Nike has launched a B.I.L.L., Bot Initiated Longevity Lab, a robot-augmented system to clean and repair shoes. Nike’s circular vision includes products that are made with the intention of being reused, remade, rediscovered, and loved again as something brand new. Extending the life of a product is a key component of that circular future.

Giving a product a second life reduces its environmental impact on the planet. This insight is what led to Nike’s latest innovation at retail, B.I.L.L., debuting at Nike Town London. Using advanced robotics, old-school hand craft, water-based cleaning products and recycled polyester patches, B.I.L.L. is currently capable of extending the life of Air Force 1s, Air Jordan 1s, Space Hippie 01s, and Nike Dunks. 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, Nike said in a press release.

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 (all in all, B.I.L.L. takes about 45 minutes to process a pair of Air Force 1s) , Nike store athletes add new liners and laces made from recycled materials. During the time B.I.L.L. is available in Nike Town London, the service will be free of charge for shoppers.

B.I.L.L. will be available at Nike Town London throughout September 2022. B.I.L.L. complements services like Nike Refurbished and Nike Recycling and Donation.

“The thing is, maintaining old products is deeply personal. People will go to great lengths to care for their favourite 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 use robotics as part of a recycling technology, we still want the service to be personal,” Noah Murphy-Reinhertz, sustainability lead, Nike NXT, said.