The Cybathlon returns in 2020

The cyborg olympics were a success in 2016 and they're only getting bigger.

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Michael Buholzer/AFP
Michael Buholzer/AFP

The world's first Cybathlon, a single-day sporting competition designed for people with severe disabilities, was a massive success in 2016. We documented the games, tech and cheering crowds that filled Zürich's Swiss Arena in a five-part video series -- and in 2020, we'll have the chance to do it all again. The Cybathlon will officially return in May 2020 as a two-day event in Zürich.

The Cybathlon 2020 will include the six disciplines from 2016 -- Brain-Computer Interface Race, FES Bike Race, Powered Arm Prosthesis Race, Powered Leg Prosthesis Race, Powered Exoskeleton Race and Powered Wheelchair Race -- plus new challenges, including some for people with sensory disabilities such as deafness and blindness.

The games are a chance for participants to prove their strength and resolve, and they offer a stage for biomedical companies to demonstrate their recent advances in research. Plus, a secondary program allows audience members to try out the disciplines for themselves, to get a sense of the challenges facing folks with these disabilities.

The 2020 games won't be confined to Zürich alone. ETH Zürich, the company organizing the event, also plans to host an additional "Cybathlon Series" at universities across the world. The series will comprise one race per discipline per year, and it will allow researchers to hold workshops about their latest gadgets, generating conversations about disabilities and assistive technology among students and faculty worldwide. The Cybathlon Series isn't a qualification track for the actual Cybathlon 2020, but it's a way for interested athletes to ensure their gear is competition-ready.

Additionally, the Cybathlon eXhibitions will bring assistive technologies to fairs, conventions and classrooms. The program will include show races and hands-on demos.

ETH Zürich will announce the location and dates for the May 2020 Cybathlon at a later time, so stay tuned.

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