This summer, we had the Rio Summer Olympics. Then, there were the Rio Paralympics. And in October, the best of championship athletics for people with disabilities and the latest in assistive technology are combining forces in what is known as the Cybathlon. Among the technologies used were robotic prostheses, brain-computer interfaces, all-terrain powered wheelchairs, and powered exoskeletons.
The first international competition of its kind, Cybathlon was conceived and organized by the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, ETH Zürich. Founded in 1855, it counts Albert Einstein among its alumni and professors. Cybathlon was a competition in six disciplines:
- Powered exoskeleton race
- Powered arm prosthesis race
- Powered leg prosthesis race
- Brain-controlled computer game
- Powered wheelchair race
- Muscle-stimulated bike race
The top moments can be seen and relived in a series of videos on the Cybathlon YouTube channel. In the future, according to a PBS report, robotic arms and other limbs can be life-changing for our wounded veterans.
As to be expected, coverage was widespread:
- Scientific American and the BBC brought the complex technology to the interested lay reader.
- Swissinfo and Endgaget covered the events before, during, and after the Cybathlon, “combining innovation and competition.
- Techradar hailed the Cybathlon as an important force that will influence the Olympic games in the future.
In short, the Cybathlon will be a critical element in promoting assistive technology for people with physical disabilities in all walks of life.