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Cybathlon Will Allow Athletes to Compete Using Powered Prostheses, Exoskeletons

Image courtesy of NCCR Robotics.

Posted March 27, 2014

The Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Robotics, Lausanne, is organizing a new competition designed specifically for those who use devices such as powered knee prostheses, wearable arm prostheses, powered exoskeletons, and powered wheelchairs.

On October 8, 2016, Zurich, Switzerland, will host the Cybathlon, a championship for athletes using advanced assistive devices. Teams consisting of one or more athletes, called “pilots,” and an industry or academic technology provider will compete in one of six disciplines: a leg prosthetics race; an arm prosthetics race; a brain computer interface (BCI) race; a functional electrical stimulation (FES) bike race; a powered exoskeleton race; or a powered wheelchair race.

Each race will have its own set course complete with obstacles and sitting or standing activities that have been specially designed to test the compatibility of devices with their pilot. Any robotic assistance is allowed; however, the device must be controlled by the wearer and carry its own power supply. Assistive devices can include commercially available products provided by companies or prototypes developed by research labs.
Teams will work together in advance of the race to create assistive devices that are functional and practical for the specially designed courses; however, pilots and technological teams do not need to know each other before the competition. Organizers will pair up those who enter alone.
There will be two medals for each competition, one for the pilot and one for the technology provider.

The main objectives of the Cybathlon are to deepen relations between individuals with disabilities and the research robotics community, strengthen ties between research in industry and academia, open up athletics to individuals who had previously been barred by the rules governing prosthetics in international sport, and allow individuals who might otherwise be unable to compete due to lack of motor control the opportunity to do so.

For more information, to register to become a pilot or technological team, or to view a trailer for the event, visit the Cybathlon website.