Space & Innovation

After Rio, Zurich Will Host the World's First 'Cyborg Games'

The Cybathlon will feature disabled people who rely on machines to perform everyday tasks.

<p>Photo: ThinkStock</p>

In October 2016, a group of "pilots" will compete in the first-ever Cybathlon, an Olympics-like event specifically geared toward people with missing/amputated limbs, paralysis, and other disabilities. Whereas the Olympics celebrate athletes who harness the sheer power of the human body, the Cybathlon will test who can best master the collaborative aspect of muscle and machine, according to IEEE.

Participating teams will be comprised of a pilot and a technology group. Events will include walking up staircases, crossing paths made of stepping stones and opening jars. Organizers say they are deliberately emphasizing relatively mundane tasks for the event. Robert Riener, who also teaches at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, says he hope Cybathlon will encourage engineers to develop assistive technology that can better assist disabled people in everyday tasks. "Most of them are not very useful for the patient."

Currently, there are over 80 teams expected to compete at the Cybathlon, which will be broadcast on major networks like BBC. If it gets good ratings, organizers say the next iteration could be put on in tandem with the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.

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