Nimish SawantMar 27, 2014 17:00:00 IST
Zurich in Switzerland will host the world's first Cybathlon, an international competition for athletes who use prosthetic limbs and other bionic aids, in October 2016. As Motherboard reports, the competition will have an Olympics-like format and approach, and will pit the best robot-assisted parathletes against one another.
Here is a promotional video of the Cybathlon
The Cybathlon athletes will compete in six different disciplines namely Brain-Computer Interface race, Funtional Electrical Stimulation bike race, Leg prosthetics race, Powered exoskeleton race, Powered wheelchair race and Arm prosthetics race. As will have become obvious by now, Cybathlon does not have any limitations on the technological help that parathletes can get from their prosthetic gear.
The Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Robotics is hosting the competition to not only raise awareness, but also garner more interest in the emerging field of human-oriented robotics technologies.
Two sets of prizes will be awarded - one to the competing athlete and the other to the company that created the prosthetic device or software.
According to the Cybathlon website, the aim of the competition is to promote the development of novel assistive systems and reinforce the scientific exchange, improve the public awareness about the challenges and opportunities of assistive technologies, and enable pilots with disabilities to compete in races.
The events are unique in their own sense. For instance, in the Powered arm prosthetics race, "Pilots with forearm or upper arm amputations will be equipped with actuated exoprosthetic devices and will have to successfully complete two hand-arm task courses as quickly as possible."
"At least two participants will start at the same time on two identical courses, to make the event more exciting. The losing pilot will not drop out of the race, because rank and time will be used to determine the winner of this discipline."
The Cybathlon is not the same as paralympics, where athletes can use prosthetics only to make themselves to be as good as able-bodied athletes. Here the competitors are openly urging using the best in robotics technologies to push the barriers. While it may raise a lot of questions on the sports-ethics front, it is sure to generate a lot of interest in the field of bionics.