Updated: Feb 19, 2020
On 2 - 3 May 2020 the Cybathlon opens again - a unique championship whereby individuals with a disability, assisted by cutting-edge technology, come to terms with the challenges of everyday life. Over 90 teams from around the world are battling it out in six disciplines.
Widespread interest sparked by the premiere in 2016 - over 4,500 spectators and some 150 media representatives from around the world - called for this year’s Cybathlon to run over two days. Lining up in May are over 90 international teams – a third more than last time. What unites them is a mission to push technical assistive devices to the next level, so that people with disabilities can participate more fully in society.
“Despite striking advances in assistive technology in recent decades, only a few devices are suitable for everyday use today”, explains Robert Riener, Professor of Sensorimotor Systems at ETH Zurich and Initiator of the Cybathlon. “The goal here is to create not the most complex devices, but the most useful ones”.
The Cybathlon challenges are geared to everyday activities that many people with disabilities find hard to master. Tying shoelaces, negotiating uneven terrain, opening a bottle, sitting down and getting up again – these are just some of the tasks that competitors in the 2020 event must tackle. On the programme again are the six disciplines – the Brain-Computer Interface Race, Functional Electrical Stimulation Bike Race, Powered Arm Prosthesis Race, Powered Leg Prosthesis Race, Powered Exoskeleton Race and Powered Wheelchair Race – but since 2016 these have been fine-tuned, with input from the users of assistive devices.
For months now, over 90 teams from all six continents have been getting set for the event – with universities, industry, NGOs and people with disabilities working closely together on a variety of innovative solutions. This year, the United Kingdom is represented by as many as ten teams; one of these is the team from Imperial College in London, who has created a semi-autonomous wheelchair steered by eye movements. Six teams from the USA are taking part, including Team Cleveland, the 2016 gold medal winner in the Functional Electrical Stimulation Bike Race. Asia is represented by over 20 teams. Touch Hand from South Africa is the only team from the African continent this year; the team will compete in the Powered Arm Prosthesis Race.
“The participation of teams from all over the world shows that the Cybathlon has become an event with a global reach. The Cybathlon promotes international cooperation and playful competition in a highly socially relevant area,” says Joël Mesot, President of ETH Zurich.
Switzerland is represented in all six disciplines, with 11 teams in total. Four of these teams are from the ETH Zurich domain: ETH spin-off Scewo is competing in the Powered Wheelchair Race, while Varileg Enhanced is putting to the test an exoskeleton developed together with the University of Applied Sciences Rapperswil (HSR). Two ETH Zurich research teams will also be in the line-up – one for the Powered Leg Prosthesis Race, and the other for the Brain-Computer Interface Race, in a joint endeavour with Nanyang University of Technology, Singapore.
More Information & Tickets to to https://cybathlon.ethz.ch/en/
Maren is a full-time diabetes advocate who founded her first Diabetes Startup mysugarcase shortly after her diagnosis in 2008. By offering unique & innovative medical bags she wanted to eliminate the uncertainty about the storage, public image & transport of medications. With the foundation of LIV, Maren would like to do even more to make the living with chronic illnesses more liveable.
Foto & Text credits: Cybathlon / ETH Zurich – www.ethz.ch