Last Saturday, in a sold-out stadium in Zurich, Switzerland, the world’s first cyborg Olympics showed the world a new science-fiction version of sports. At the Cybathlon, people with disabilities used robotic technology to turn themselves into cyborg athletes. They competed for gold and glory in six different events. [Scroll down for video from two events.]
Rather than celebrating pure human brawn, the Cybathlon rejoiced in the combined power of muscle and machine. The competitors, who were called “pilots,” were people with missing limbs or some form of paralysis; on their own they could never have moved through the races successfully. But by skillfully controlling advanced technologies, amputees navigated race courses using powered prosthetic legs and arms. Paraplegics raced in robotic exoskeletons, bikes, and motorized wheelchairs, and even used their brain waves to race in the virtual world.