The Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research Robotics has announced it will be holding a Cyberathlon in October 2016. (The BBC has a brief synopsis – the Cyberathlon site can bring up security certificate warnings). Its open to those with arm or leg prosthetics, as well as wheel-chair
bound athletes and those with exoskeletons. There’s also a brain-computer interface challenge. Nothing for bionic eyes or cochlear implants though. And don’t expect six million dollar man-type achievements.
Its about promoting novel assistive technologies rather than athletic prowess. Firms & research labs as well as the athletes can win medals. So it’s more like a DARPA grand challenge than a real Olympic event. And presumably no expensive, flash opening ceremony. Nor a rush of large scale stadium and athlete village building.
The initiative highlights the pace of development in bionics. Last week the US Food & Drug Administration approved marketing of the DEKA arm system that translates electrical signals from muscles into movement.
It also illustrates how competitions are increasingly being used to stimulate technological developments.