The CYBATHLON 2024 Teams and Their Pilots
CYBATHLON 2024 will take place from 25 to 27 October and the whole attention will be on our main players: The teams and their pilots. The third edition of CYBATHLON will take place in a global format in the Arena Schluefweg in Kloten near Zurich and in local hubs all around the world.
The preparations for the grand event are underway, and we are not leaving any stone unturned. The teams’ preparations are already in full swing with about a year until the competition. The pilots are rigorously training and being trained to use the assistance systems, while the researchers continue to develop these systems and improve them based on user feedback. The second round of the CYBATHLON Challenges on the Road to 2024 was just completed with success. There were 15 teams competing in 5 different disciplines from all around the world. The third and last CYBATHLON Challenges on the Road to 2024 will take place on 2nd February 2024 and registration is now open. As you can see in the Challenges 2024 Races & Rules, we will hold competitions in all eight CYBATHLON disciplines. Teams are invited to compete and showcase their current technology and the pilot’s skills in 4 selected tasks of their discipline of the CYBATHLON 2024 Races & Rules. To learn more about the disciplines and tasks, please click here.
We are going to highlight several of our teams and their pilots today since they will be showcasing cutting-edge assistive technologies at the CYBATHLON 2024. The pilots will be demonstrating how they have mastered the devices and how these technologies have enabled them to live independent and autonomous life and will be part of everyday life for people with disabilities fostering inclusion in all spheres of life. The teams will be coming up with their assistive technologies in eight CYBATHLON disciplines including two new disciplines: a race using smart visual assistive technologies for blind people and a race using assistive robots for people with severely limited use of their arms and legs.
CYBATHLON is pleased to welcome back teams and extends a warm welcome to the new teams.
The Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) Bike Race will see the BFH-CybaTrike team from Bern University of Applied Sciences compete for the third time. The team’s goal is to develop a bike that makes it possible for paraplegics to on bike tours. With the stimulation system on this inexpensive bike, riders may ride for several hours. In the first CYBATHLON competition in 2016, they took part as IRPT/SPZ and won the bronze medal. The team finished fourth out of 9 teams in the discipline in 2020, the Second Edition.
The team is participating with their pilot Julien Jouffory. Eight years ago, Julien met with an accident that left him paralysed. Driving a bicycle with his legs seemed utopian. But the year of his injury was also the first time he rode a trike. It was made possible by a recumbent bike customized for him and effective electronic muscle stimulation. According to the Frenchman, "Cycling gives me great health benefits and I can move around outdoors without a wheelchair."
Touch Hand (South Africa)
"The true purpose of our research and development is to make a difference in a person's life, not money. And that is what drives and motivates us," says Riaan Stopforth, Touch Hand's director. The South African team has been specializing in low-cost arm prostheses since 2013 making them affordable for low-income households and countries. At CYBATHLON they will start with an improved version of the 4th prototype. "As a team, we focus on practical solutions that work. CYBATHLON is a good opportunity for us to compare, a benchmark to see where we stand, but we are also happy to celebrate the event and our work," Riaan continues.
The Touch Hand will participate in CYBATHLON 2024 with their pilot Lungile Kenneth Dick. He says, “I want to build my own business, one that puts a smile on the face of disabled people. A place where there is room for them and where they are appreciated." Some 15 years ago, he lost his hand in an accident at work. He experienced a lot of neglect and discrimination and felt exploited or emotionally humiliated at different levels. How people should live together, Lungile experiences in the Team Touch Hand as he expresses: “We work together respectfully and empathically. It’s incredible to see the joy with which everyone is working on the project. I hope that in the future when the prosthesis is further developed, it will reduce my physical handicap and help others in developing countries".
Sight Guide (Switzerland)
We are delighted to welcome Sight Guide, a new team that will compete in CYBATHLON 2024 as part of the Vision Assistance Race. It all began with Professor Alireza Darvishy's (ZHAW) ambitious desire to organise a team for the CYBATHLON 2024 Vision Assistance Race. Professor Darvishy suffers from vision loss himself. The Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), ETH Zurich, and the University of Zurich formed the team, an alliance of three major research institutions in the canton of Zurich.
Their goal is to significantly influence the development of new technologies for support systems by creative fixes, constantly working closely with those who are blind or visually impaired.
Team Mirage91 has already participated in CYBATHLON 2016 in the Brain-Computer Interface Race. How long research on BCI technology has been going on at the Graz University of Technology is reflected in the team name: It stands for Mind Racing Graz Established 1991. Team manager Lea Hehenberger explains: "It’s a very good project for the students to gain experience in the BCI field. Training together with the pilot is a valuable experience and the increased media presence will also bring the topic closer to the public".
“To control a computer game with my thoughts? Sounds exciting.” That’s what Pascal Prietl thought when a doctor asked him in a rehabilitation centre. “After the first contact with the team, we really got going. Since March 2019, I have been training with the team regularly at the university or at my home,” recounts the Austrian. “First, we tried out different paradigms to find the right mental tasks for me. We have a lot of fun as a team, and our relationship is great. And it is great fun to play the game!"
Pascal is the pilot for team Mirage91 which will participate in the CYBATHLON 2024. Thirteen years ago, Pascal had a traffic accident and since then is paralyzed from his neck down.
Project MARCH (Netherlands)
Project MARCH is a non-profit student team, and it is the only CYBATHLON exoskeleton team consisting exclusively of students without the guidance of a professor – not only in the preparation and participation in CYBATHLON but also in the development of their exoskeleton. Project MARCH's collaborators interrupt their regular studies for one year, during which they raise the walking device to the next level. The name says it all: the goal is to enable someone with a spinal cord injury to stand up and walk again.
This is the second year that Koen van Zeeland is the pilot for Project MARCH. Koen is 35 years old and has a spinal cord injury due to an accident 9 years ago. In addition to training with the exoskeleton, he also likes to go to the gym or ride his hand bike. Koen works in close collaboration with the team throughout the whole process: from the first design steps to the actual training itself.
Robility enhanced (Switzerland)
The Robility enhanced is the official CYBATHLON Wheelchair team of the OST – Ostschweizer Fachhochschule. The project is initiated by the Institute for Lab Automation and Mechatronics (ILT). It aims at providing maximal agility and fun to our pilot Florian on the days of the races by means of an enhanced race chair.
"I am glad to be able to do something so special again and to take part in a competition", Rolf Schoch says, the team pilot. His passion was motocross until an accident stopped him: "I had a fall during a race and since then I have a complete paralysis from the thoracic vertebra TH 5", explains the truck mechanic. He is enthusiastic about CYBATHLON and being part of the team, as he expresses: "From all of us there is a lot of heart and soul in this project!"
The team is composed of the Robotic Systems Lab (RSL), a robotics lab at ETH Zurich that will participate in CYBATHLON 2024 Assistance Robot Race again with their pilot Samuel Kunz. The Lab investigates the development of machines and their intelligence to operate in complex and challenging environments. With a large focus on robots with arms and legs, their research includes novel actuation methods for advanced dynamic interaction, innovative designs for increased system mobility and versatility, and new control and optimization algorithms for locomotion and manipulation. They see the CYBATHLON competition as a great opportunity to put the technology we have been developing at the service of society.
Register Your Team for the CYBATHLON 2024
Do you conduct research and development on assistive technology such as exoskeletons, intelligent white canes for the blind, powered wheelchairs or prosthetic legs? Do you work with brain-computer interfaces or functional electrical muscle stimulation? Or do you wear a prosthesis yourself?
Do you want to contribute to the inclusion of people with disabilities and work towards a world without barriers? Then become part of CYBATHLON now!