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Cybathlon 2020: High-tech innovations for people with disabilities

Aaliyah Harris, CNN

Published 3:31 AM ET, Wed November 18, 2020
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The Cybathlon competition brings together people with physical disabilities to compete in everyday tasks using state-of-the-art assistance technologies. Zurich-based team Scewo competed in the powered wheelchair race, where they had to traverse uneven terrain. Courtesy of ETH Zurich / CYBATHLON / ALESSANDRO DELLA BELLA
Competing in the powered exoskeleton race, this wearable powered suit structure supports people with spinal cord injuries. Courtesy of ETH Zurich / CYBATHLON / ALESSANDRO DELLA BELLA
This bionic arm prosthetic developed by students at Imperial College London can feel how rough objects are. Courtesy of Imperial ARM team for Cybathlon 2020, from the Neuromechanics Rehab Tech group at Imperial College London
For the competition, pilot Conrad Christian Bona used the arm to perform tasks such as stacking cups -- to demonstrate a range of motion in the forearm and wrist. Courtesy of Imperial ARM team for Cybathlon 2020, from the Neuromechanics Rehab Tech group at Imperial College London
Paul Moore was the pilot for another Imperial College London team competing in the powered wheelchair race, operating this semi-autonomous wheelchair using his eye movements. Courtesy of Imperial College London
Moore piloted the wheelchair during the Cybathlon event, with team manager Mahendran Subramanian acting as an object that the wheelchair must navigate around. Courtesy of Imperial College London
While balancing on a thin wooden beam, this pilot in the powered leg prosthesis race had to transport objects from one end of the beam to the other. This activity involves controlling and bending movements of the knee joint. Courtesy of ETH Zurich / CYBATHLON / ALESSANDRO DELLA BELLA
For the Brain-Computer Interface Race, quadriplegic pilots used technology to control avatars in a computer game called "BrainDriver," in which they had to navigate vehicles through a course. Courtesy of ETH Zurich / CYBATHLON /ALESSANDRO DELLA BELLA
Handling an object like a plastic cup needs great precision from a prosthesis and pilot ... Courtesy of ETH Zurich / CYBATHLON / ALESSANDRO DELLA BELLA
... as does picking up a teacup by its handle. Courtesy of ETH Zurich / CYBATHLON /ALESSANDRO DELLA BELLA
The first Cybathlon was held in 2016 in Zurich, Switzerland, in an arena full of supporters. This year, because of coronavirus, teams had to take part from their home bases. Courtesy of ETH Zurich / CYBATHLON / Nicola Pitaro
In 2016, powered wheelchair race competitors had to maneuver up an incline. Courtesy of ETH Zurich / CYBATHLON / Alessandro Della Bell
In this event at Cybathlon 2016, different shaped objects were placed on the ground to create an uneven surface, adding to the challenge. Courtesy of ETH Zurich / CYBATHLON / Alessandro Della Bella
Using a can opener requires thinking about pressure, movement and grip. Courtesy of ETH Zurich / CYBATHLON / Nicola Pitaro
Robert Radocy, part of team DIPO Power, won the arm prosthesis race at Cybathlon 2016. This year, participants didn't get to take part in the winners' ceremony, but still had the satisfaction of knowing they were developing life-changing technology. Courtesy of ETH Zurich / CYBATHLON / Alessandro Della Bella