Zurich Will Host the First-Ever "Cyborg" Olympics

ETH Zurich / Alessandro Della Bella
ETH Zurich / Alessandro Della Bella / ETH Zurich / Alessandro Della Bella

Not long after the summer Olympics come to a close in Rio, Zurich will be playing host to another international competition. The inaugural Cybathlon, debuting on October 8, will attract researchers, scientists, engineers, and disabled competitors to the Swiss city to showcase the latest in cutting-edge prosthetics technology, Nature reports.

The Paralympics are already a great example of how technology can blend seamlessly with sports. But unlike that event in September, October’s games, featuring technology designed by 80 research groups from 25 countries, will focus on everyday tasks rather than extreme athleticism.

“I think that people are spoiled by the internet and Hollywood movies,” the event’s organizer, Robert Riener, told Nature. Riener is the director of the Sensory-Motor Systems Lab at the Swiss university ETH Zurich. “We want to show people there are still challenges.”

In the prosthetic-arm competition, the cyborg athletes—called “pilots”—will race to prepare meals and hang laundry. The mechanical wheelchair portion will require racers to navigate stairs and other obstacles they might encounter on a daily basis.

In addition to competing for glory, participants also hope the event will kick-start research into more technology that can be used by people in everyday life. You can see some of the courses and challenges in the images below, which were taken in mid-July at a Cybathlon practice session at a sports arena in Kloten, Switlzerland; some 30 teams from 15 countries participated. 

[h/t Nature]

All images courtesy of ETH Zurich / Alessandro Della Bella

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