We all aware about the Olympics, Paralympics which are International sport events for athletes. Have you ever heard about a competition for bionic athletes? It’s an event where physically challenged athletes compete among themselves with the help of robotic devices.
Yes, such an event is going to be hosted, ‘Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) in association with Swiss Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Robotics is organising an international event named Cybathlon.
Cybathlon is a global competition for disabled athletes who are assisted with bionic assistive technologies like robotic prostheses, brain-computer interfaces and powered exoskeletons.
The cyborg Olympics is scheduled to take place on 8th October 2016 in Zurich, Switzerland.
It would be the first international professional competition of its kind where teams from all over the globe will participate in races and other sporting events.
The winners of the each competition along with the developers of the assistive technology used by the pilots would also be awarded medals.
The main personality behind this wonderful event is Mr.Robert Riener, who is a professor in the sensory-motor systems lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH).
He believes that every problem in the world has a solution, but it would require some motivation to make them rise to the challenge.
He wants this event to highlight the importance of human and machines working together and prove that technology can clear the obstacles which are faced physically disabled persons.
All the participants would be using assistive devices depending on their disability. The devices were carefully developed and tested by physicians, developers over a period of three years. Eighty teams from all over the world have registered.
The participants would be called pilots instead of athletes to emphasise the role of the assistive technology in the event.
Coming to the event teams will compete against each other in six different categories. Here are the games that will be featured in the global event.
The Brain-computer interface Race is another category in which brain waves are detected and converted into control signals. Through these signals, pilots can control the thoughts of an artificial figure (Avatar) in a computer game.
FES Bike Race
In the Functional Electrical Stimulation Bike race pilots with complete paraplegia (paralysis) would compete against others with the assistance of electrical muscle stimulation.
Powered Arm Prosthesis Race
The powered arm prosthesis race aims to show important performing basic, daily tasks. In this category Pilots with amputations are assisted with robotic arms, and they should complete daily routine activities like opening a jar of jam, slicing bread and putting butter on the bread or Pinning clothes in a line and other small challenges that would require a different type of grip.
Powered Leg Prosthesis Race
During this event, pilots will compete on parallel tracks through obstacles in the path such beams, stones, stairs and slopes. Currently, the most advanced and powerful prostheses only can cope up with these type of challenges.
Powered Exoskeleton Race
The exoskeleton event includes challenging tasks like stepping over stones, climbing stairs and walking up a slope. Pilots with paraplegia are assisted with exoskeletons which are worn around the legs. Various companies around the world develop exoskeletons.
Powered Wheelchair Race
This category involves pilots on powered wheelchairs, which are more capable than the existing ones. Participants would encounter different challenges like go up a steep ramp, open a door and then close it again, and go down a steep ramp, and they will also have to fit beneath a table. They can take the help of a chain to climb stairs or steep ramps.
Riener stated that “The goal is to push the development in the direction of technology that is capable of performing day-to-day tasks. And that way, there will be an improvement in the future life of the person using the device.”