Cybathlon 2016: Amazing Images from the World's First Bionic Olympics


In the world's first-ever Cybathlon this past weekend, teams of scientists and paralyzed but augmented humans battled it out in six bionic disciplines during an Olympics-style science competition in Zurich, Switzerland.

Groups of researchers partnered with competitors with disabilities, showing off a number of skills and technologies in a competitive setting on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016. Cybathlon focuses on bionic technology, where paraplegic competitors augment their bodies with electronic and mechanical extensions often controlled with the human mind and electro-muscular stimuli. The teams vied for the title in events like a bike race in which paraplegic competitors' leg muscles are contracted by electrical stimulation, and a race between competitors piloting powered exoskeletons.

The Cybathlon is the brainchild of the engineering university ETH Zurich and Robert Riener, a robotics professor at Switzerland's National Centre of Competence in Research. In addition to the aforementioned categories, competitive teams also face off with bionic arms, bionic legs and a brain-computer interface battle. Want to know more about the competitors? HowStuffWorks Now interviewed some of the scientists earlier this year. Learn more about Cybathlon here, and check out pictures from the landmark event below:

A pilot for the team SG Mechatronics makes his way across in the exoskeleton course. Competing pilots, who all have complete paraplegia, had to compete wearing a powered exoskeleton and complete typical everyday tasks such as climbing stairs or sitting...
A pilot for the team SG Mechatronics makes his way across in the exoskeleton course. Competing pilots, who all have complete paraplegia, had to compete wearing a powered exoskeleton and complete typical everyday tasks such as climbing stairs or sitting...
ETH Zurich/Alessandro Della Bella
One of the challenges included using a powered prosthetic leg in a race. Pilots had to maneuver through an obstacle course and up and down steps.
One of the challenges included using a powered prosthetic leg in a race. Pilots had to maneuver through an obstacle course and up and down steps.
ETH Zurich/Alessandro Della Bella
A pilot  the Cybathlon's word for its athletes  controls a machine with brainwaves in the brain-computer interface (BCI) race.
A pilot the Cybathlon's word for its athletes controls a machine with brainwaves in the brain-computer interface (BCI) race.
ETH Zurich/Nicola Pitaro
Pilots with complete paraplegia raced with functional electrical stimulation (FES) bikes.
Pilots with complete paraplegia raced with functional electrical stimulation (FES) bikes.
ETH Zurich/Nicola Pitaro
Paraplegic FES bike pilots, like the Team Meltin competitor pictured here, pedal by artificially stimulating their legs' motor nerves to initiate muscle contraction.
Paraplegic FES bike pilots, like the Team Meltin competitor pictured here, pedal by artificially stimulating their legs' motor nerves to initiate muscle contraction.
ETH Zurich/Nicola Pitaro
A pilot from Team Imperial competes in the prosthetic arm competition, in which four pilots with arm amputations faced off by racing to solve six tasks; they could only touch blue items in the puzzle with their prosthetic arms.
A pilot from Team Imperial competes in the prosthetic arm competition, in which four pilots with arm amputations faced off by racing to solve six tasks; they could only touch blue items in the puzzle with their prosthetic arms.
ETH Zurich/Alessandro Della Bella