Six obstacles, a ten-minute countdown, and just one winner. That is the Cybathlon 2020, organized by ETH Zürich and held in the SWISS Arena in Kloten, Switzerland on the 2nd and 3rd of May, 2020. At this event, which can be described best as the Olympic Games for disabled people whose disability is being counteracted with a technological innovation, teams from all around the world can compete in six disciplines to try and win their race. These disciplines are a Brain-Computer Interface Race, a Functional Electrical Stimulation Bike Race, a Powered Arm Prosthesis Race, a Powered Leg Prosthesis Race, a Powered Wheelchair Race, and, of course, a Powered Exoskeleton Race. This event is different from the Cybathlon Experience events - a small try-out event to measure progression of your innovation - that Project MARCH has competed in multiple times so far: it’s bigger, it’ll be broadcasted on national TV, and it’s organized just once every four years. At the Cybathlon 2020, fifteen teams from twelve different countries are competing for the first place in the Powered Exoskeleton Race, and, naturally, Project MARCH is one of them.
Working towards the Cybathlon 2020 instead of a Cybathlon Experience event means that the year of the fifth team of Project MARCH is different than most other years: instead of building a completely new exoskeleton to compete in a Cybathlon Experience, the team sets out to improve and optimize the current exoskeleton, rebranding it from the MARCH IV to the MARCH IVc – with the c for ‘Cybathlon’. While the fact that the race is organized in May instead of September brings about certain challenges – logistically, technically, and competitively -, it also motivates the team to give their absolute best shot at winning the Powered Exoskeleton Race. With the Cybathlon 2020 in mind ever since the start of Project MARCH, it is no surprise that the current team receives great support from previous members of the project.
Want to know more about the Cybathlon? Click here.