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Assistive Technologies Put to the Test at Cybathlon Competition

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Cybathlon competitor

Teams spent years preparing assistive technologies for the Cybathlon 2020 competition.

Credit: Adlessandro Della Bella / ETH Zurich

The Cybathlon 2020 Global Edition concluded this past weekend with 51 teams from 20 countries competing and performing everyday tasks with the help of state-of-the-art assistance systems. Teams of engineers, developers, and persons with a physical disability competed in races that demonstrated how state-of-the-art assistive technologies measure up to the challenges of everyday life.

The teams competed in different time zones and locations due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Each competitor had three hours in which to make three attempts at an obstacle course, with the best attempt counting towards their result. The Cybathlon consists of six disciplines for humans and their machines: a virtual race with mind-con-trolled tasks, a bike race with electronic muscle stimulation, and obstacle courses for those racing with arm prostheses, leg prostheses, robotic exoskeletons, and motorized wheelchairs. Between five and 13 teams competed for the win in each discipline.

"Universities have social responsibilities. Technology should serve people — not the other way around," said Joël Mesot, president of ETH Zurich, followed the competition. "The Cybathlon is a particularly impressive example of how humans and technology can create unity."

Roland Sigrist, the Cybathlon's Executive Director, said the teams are "helping to improve assistive technologies for people with disabilities."

The Cybathlon was started by ETH Zurich with the aim of placing people at the center of assistive technologies development. The competition provides a forum in which people with physical disabilities, technology developers, and the public can interact. Cybathlon not only raises awareness, but also stimulates global synergies to further the current state of technology and promote inclusion.

From ETH Zurich
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