Cybathlon: first 'bionic Olympics' to be held in 2016

Mar 28, 2014

Exoskeleton races and a mind-controlled videogame contest will be among the disciplines at Cybathlon

THE world’s first 'bionic Olympics' will be held in Switzerland in October 2016.

Dubbed the Cybathlon, the event will feature 'bionic' athletes competing in a range of different events including prosthetics races, powered exoskeleton competitions and a game where athletes, known as pilots, control a vehicle with their mind.

The competition is designed for people with disabilities and companies who specialise in "assistive" technology. Organisers hope that the competition will generate interest in performance-enhancing machinery, the BBC reports.

The event will feature races for powered wheelchairs, exoskeletons, arm and leg prosthetics, and muscle-stimulation bicycles.

One of the most technologically complex events will be the brain-computer interface race, where a competitor who is paralysed from the neck down will race in a computer simulation racing game using a headset that connects their mind to a computer.

All competitions will see two medals awarded, one for the winning pilot or athlete and one for the company that developed their technology.

Pilots can use devices that are commercially available or equipment that has been specially developed in a research lab.

Sponsored by the Swiss National Competence Centre of Research in Robotics, the Cybathlon is primarily designed to promote new medical devices and technology, but many see it as an opportunity to explore the interface between people and machines. Meghan Neil, technology editor for Motherboard, says that the competition "opens up a whole range of questions about the future of competitive sports in the age of augmented humans".

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