The Cybathlon: A Powered Adaptive Device Competition

Powered-Wheelchair-RaceWhen I first read about the Cybathlon Competition that will take place on Oct. 8, 2016 in Zurich, Switzerland, I thought it was an Onion article. But I checked it out, and the powered adaptive device competition is legit, and sounds ultra cool.

Motherboard calls it the Bionics Olympics while Slate says it’s “awesome,” and Ars Technica notes the Cybathlon is fine with “technology doping.”

But what is it, exactly? It’s a six-event competition featuring a unique, futuristic synthesis of disabled athletes and robotics.

cybathlon2016_pilotIn the competitions, athletes with SCI and other mobility impairments, called “pilots,” will compete in FES bike races and an exoskeleton race on a course with uphills, downhills, curves, and obstacles. There will be power wheelchair races on both speed and obstacle courses and also a power prosthetic competition — the object of the latter is to test the athlete’s dexterity with powered arm and hand combination.

And the coolest science-fiction-in-the-here-and-now category will be the brain computer interface race where people who have no movement below the neck will compete by controlling computer avatars around a race-course using brain-computer interface. WOW!

cybathlon2016_running1-480x270There will be two award categories for each event. One for the athlete and one for the scientist or company that makes the robotic assistive devices.

Which of these categories would you most like to compete with?

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