runfun GmbH (i.G.): RUFUS – A Robotic Running Coach That Supports Healthy, Professional Training

runfun GmbH (i.G.)
Erwin Prassler, Sebastian Blumenthal, Walter Nowak, Tiana Nicolaus, Sabine Oster, Alex Frantzis-Gounaris,Matthias Füller, prassler@runfun.com



RUFUS is an electrically powered, automatically guided, three-wheeled vehicle that drives ahead of runners like a pacesetter and sets the optimal speed at which they should train. RUFUS measures runners’ heart rates by means of a monitor worn on the body. A controller then compares this information with a set value and accelerates or decelerates the vehicle in order to minimise the difference, thus enabling runners to achieve an optimal heart rate and maximise the benefits of their training.

The set value can either be entered manually through a graphical user interface or be provided by a professional training programme. Such programmes can be downloaded from a portal for installation and execution on RUFUS’s on-board PC, much like an app.

The basic version of RUFUS has rigid axes, which means that it drives straight ahead until someone or something changes its course. The runner only has to steer the running coach around a curve like a cart when he or she wants to change its direction of travel. The basic unit can be upgraded with a steerable axis and an electronic steering device, which enable the runner to change RUFUS’s direction by pressing a button.