Disabled athletes throughout the world are preparing for the Cyborg Olympics which will take place in October of next year. The athletes will make use of highly advanced technologies to overcome their disabilities, which range from everything from paralysis to limb amputation. For instance, in the cycling event, paraplegic competitors will make use of innovative electrical stimulation systems that will activate the muscles for their paralyzed legs.
Unlike the Paralympics, the Cyborg Olympics, which is officially called the Cybathalon, will embrace motorized equipment and robotic technology. While events in the Paralympics generally focus on the human body using its own strength and power, the Cybathalon is more about using the body in tandem with electrical devices to obtain the maximum possible output.
Cyber Olympics Organizer Robert Riener explains, “It’s less about force and speed, and more about control of the body and the device.”
In fact, the participants of the games will be referred to as “pilots” rather than “athletes”. Each team will have a pilot, along with an associated technology group that works to develop the equipment. Both the pilot and the technology group will be honored if their team wins a medal.
Riener is hoping that the Cybathalon will spur innovation in order to help people living with severe disabilities. He has invited engineers across the globe to build new technologies and train pilots for the event. The event is just as much a competition as it is a way to help disabled people overcome extreme, life-changing challenges.
Riener has even catered the rules so that the technologies will be useful in everyday life. For example, in some events, pilots will be required to climb stairs, slice bread and open jars. This way, the games won’t just be about winning; they will be about helping disabled people achieve tasks that they once considered to be impossible.
A total of 80 teams are expected to compete in the Cybathalon. The event will be covered by major television networks throughout the world, including the BBC and Japan’s NHK.