Technology’s involvement in the Paralympics is minimal, usually just helping participants with disabilities compete at the same level as able-bodied athletes. But an event set to take place in Zurich, Switzerland, in 2016 seeks to flip this concept upside-down.
The Swiss National Competence Center of Research in Robotics (NCCR Robotics) is organizing the first-ever Cybathlon, an athletic and scientific competition that will encourage the use of assisted technologies to help pilots with disabilities gain advantage over the competition.
The goal of this event 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, according to the event’s website.
The Cybathlon will consist of six events: a Brain Computer Interface race, a Functional Electrical Stimulation bike race, a leg prosthetics race, a powered exoskeleton race, a powered wheelchair race and an arm prosthetics race. Two medals will be awarded for each event, one for the participant and one for the engineer of the device.
“There will be as few technical constraints as possible, in order to encourage the device providers to develop novel and powerful solutions,” says the Cybathlon website’s disciplines page. “The assistive devices can include commercially available products provided by companies, but also prototypes developed by research labs.”
The event is set to take place on Oct. 8, 2016. Tickets to the Cybathlon will be sold to the public, starting in the beginning of 2016.