Pushing Bionic Limits at the Cyborg Olympics

Disabled competitors gather to show off, and help improve, the latest in assistive technology.

Racing to Create Superhumans

Sixty-six teams of competitors from countries all around the world converged on Zurich, Switzerland, for what’s been called the first cyborg Olympics. But “Cybathlon” is much more than just a series of games—it’s a more like a super trade-show for assistive technology, where cutting edge creations that help humans grapple with disability can be displayed, and ideas exchanged about how to improve them. 

People who have been robotically enhanced are paired with researchers including roboticists and neurologists. Competitors with similar disabilities compete in Olympic-style races where the fastest time wins: One arm prosthetic race included household chores like hanging clothes and cutting bread.

The researchers use the experiences of disabled competitors to explore the limitations of current technology in an effort to develop and commercialize the unique devices being used in the games.

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