On October 6th, Josep Maria Font and Florian Stuhlenmiller attended the Cybathlon Symposium in Zürich. That symposium brought together leading experts and young researchers that presented recent technological advances within the six disciplines of the Cybathlon: Brain-Computer Interfaces, Functional Electrical Stimulation, Powered Arm Prosthetics, Powered Leg Prosthetics, Powered Exoskeletons and Powered Wheelchairs. This symposium featured six keynotes by leading researchers and short presentations by young talents. A roundtable discussion involving end-users, patient and industry representatives, and an ethics researcher closed the event and highlighted opportunities and challenges in the field of assistive technology, its industrial transfer and user acceptance.
During the symposium, Florian Stuhlenmiller presented the poster entitled “Clutchable series elastic actuator for a gait-assistive active orthosis for subjects with spinal cord injury”, which showed the result of his Master’s Thesis at the BIOMEC Lab in collaboration with the Institute for Mechatronic Systems in Mechanical Engineering (IMS) of TU Darmstadt. The presented orthosis actuator allows a more efficient, more comfortable and safer operation as compared to standard direct actuation systems for exoskeletons.
Related to the symposium, on October 8th took place the first Cybathlon. In this event, individuals with physical disabilities competed side by side in six demanding disciplines, using the latest assistive technologies. In this event, you could watch the athletes as they tackled flights of stairs in the new wheel chairs, and proved their speed and skill using the most up-to-date modern prostheses. The various races tested how the competitors cope with specific challenges and activities from everyday life. There were races for athletes with powered arm and leg prostheses, for those wearing a robotic exoskeleton and for powered wheelchairs. There was also a race for cyclists using functional electrical stimulation (FES) and even a brain-computer interface competition.
ETSEIB alumni competing at Cybathlon
During the Cybathlon we met Josep Ballester, an ETSEIB alumni studying a Master’s Program at ETH Zürich, who was the athlete of one of the powered wheelchair competition teams. The ETH Zürich team developed the wheelchair SCEWO, which is able to keep balance with just two wheels and to climb stairs using an innovative system.