A group of scientists in Europe want to know if electronically enhanced humans have an unfair advantage over regular people – beyond night vision and a skeleton made of steel of course. This team of scientists in Europe who are arranging the world’s first Cyborg Olympics, the Cybathlon. Hosted in Zurich this October, it aims to help gauge the performance and advancement in the latest developments of prosthesis and other devices that can augment human ability beyond, what is considered normal or baseline.
There will be competitions of dexterity for individuals with advanced arm and hand prosthesis — from cutting bread to open bottles of jam. Advanced wheel chair designs will tackle obstacle courses, and prosthetic legs will too! Paraplegic cycling races will be competed by using electrical stimulation to fire leg muscles in order to peddle .
“It’s less about force and speed, and more about control of the body and the device,” the event organizer Robert Riener told IEEE Spectrum. As a result the competitors won’t be called athletes, but pilots.
The competition grew out of a frustration that Riener had with the technologies currently available for disabled people, according to IEEE. Its goal will be to drive innovation in assistive tech, similar to what 2015’s DARPA Robotics Challenge aimed to do for human-shaped robots. Contestants, who will be called “pilots” instead of “athletes”—as there will be a technology team behind each participant in each event—will compete in a number of events aimed to mimic real-life events, using robotic devices controlled by their minds, or remote controls.
By inviting engineers from academia and industry to build new technologies and train pilots for the Cybathlon, Riener hopes to spur innovation. And to ensure that the resulting gear will be useful beyond the context of the stadium, the Cybathlon’s events will incorporate those routine tasks of daily life. In the race for people with powered leg prosthetics, pilots will climb stairs and walk across stepping-stones.