The Bionic Olympics may rekindle your interest in international competitions as assistive technology and sports merge together.
Also known as a Cybathalon, and the first of its kind, the Bionic Olympics will feature state-of-the-art human performance enhancing technology for bionic athletes to go head to head, or limb to bionic limb, in what will surely be some groundbreaking races.
Modeled after the Olympics and organized on behalf of the Swiss National Competence Centre of Research in Robotics (NCCR Robotics), the Bionic Olympics will feature athletes wearing prosthetic limbs, exoskeletons, or having wheelchairs or robotic aids.
In contrast to the Paralympics, the international competition for disabled persons, innovative assistive technology is at the forefront of Bionic Olympics events, with prizes for competitors (referred to as “pilots”) as well as for the companies that develop the prosthetic, device, or software used.
Further, the games will allow for the first time the participation of persons with full paralysis, who will control avatars with brain-computer interfaces – showing mental and technological rather than physical prowess.
What are the games?
There will be six disciplines at the 2016 Cybathalon, which will be hosted in Zurich, Switzerland in October:
“Pilots with forearm or upper arm amputations will be equipped with actuated exoprosthetic devices and will have to successfully complete two hand-arm task courses as quickly as possible.”
The Bionic Olympics may become a test bed for new technology applied to prosthetic devices, with some universities building solutions to be showcased at the event.
“Pilots will be equipped with brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) that will enable them to control an avatar in a racing game played on computers.”
“Pilots with different disability levels (e.g. quadriplegics, paraplegics, amputees) will be equipped with power wheelchairs, which will enable them to steer along a particular race course.”
4. Bionic Olympics Powered leg prosthesis race
“Pilots with transfemoral amputation will be equipped with actuated exoprosthetic devices and will have to successfully complete a race course as quickly as possible.” A transfemoral amputation is one that occurs above the knee.
“Pilots with complete thoracic or lumbar Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI) will be equipped with actuated exoskeletal devices, which will enable them to walk along a particular race course.”
“Pilots with complete Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI) will be equipped with Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) devices, which will enable them to perform a pedaling movement on a cycling device that drives them on a circular course.”
As the world’s first Olympics for “augmented humans,” the Bionic Olympics may be a literal game changer as far as technology is concerned, and a further sign that robotics are becoming more and more integrated with the body by the day.