World’s first Cybathlon a great success

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A unique international day of competitions designed to demonstrate how assistive technologies can help people with disabilities in their daily life has been hailed a great success after it attracted 4,600 visitors.

The first Cybathlon in the world, held in the SWISS Arena Kloten, Zurich, involved pilots from 66 international teams competing in six disciplines: a Powered Leg Prosthesis Race, a Powered Wheelchair Race, a Functional Electrical Stimulation Bike Race, a Brain-Computer Interface Race, a Powered Arm Prosthesis Race and a Powered Exo-skeleton Race.

The event is the brainchild of ETH Zurich and NCCR Robotics professor Robert Riener and has three aims: to facilitate conversation between academia and industry, to facilitate discussion between technology developers and people with disabilities, and to promote the use of robotic assistive aids to the general public.

The day of competitions was preceded by a scientific symposium that brought together leading experts and young researchers to present and discuss recent technological advances within the six disciplines of the Cybathlon. A symposium booklet containing the programme and abstracts is available to download.

Visitors were also able to tour an exhibition – From Captain Hook to Iron Man – organised by the Swiss organisation PluSport showcasing how prosthetics and wheelchairs have developed and evolved over the years, and to experience first hand some of the latest assistive technology, including playing a computer game using your brainwaves, walking with a prosthetic leg, or taking a wheelchair over uneven ground.

Winners of the six disciplines were:

  • Robert Radocy, Team DIPO Power – Powered Arm Prosthesis Race
  • Mark Muhn, Team Cleveland – Functional Electrical Stimulation Bike Race
  • Florian Hauser, Team HSR Enhanced – Powered Wheelchair Race
  • Andre Van Rueschen, Team ReWalk – Powered Exoskeleton Race
  • Numa Poujouly, Team Brain Tweakers – Brain-Computer Interface Race
  • Helgi Sveinsson, Team OssurRheoKnee – Powered Leg Prosthesis Race

Professor Reiner said:

People with a physical disability that restricts daily life – these are the real winners of the Cybathlon. And as we have seen today, great things can be achieved when their needs directly influence the development of new assistive technology! I am very proud of the work of almost 70 teams, and delighted that the Cybathlon has awakened such interest worldwide.

A second Cybathlon is planned to take place in four years’ time.

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Special World, from Inclusive Technology, is a free website linking 125,000 special education teachers, speech therapists and occupational therapists in 150 countries. Special World readers and contributors work with children who have additional needs or special educational needs including those with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties and disabilities.

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