In October of 2016, I flew myself to Switzerland as a volunteer to help in set-up, operation, and tear-down of the first biennial Cybathlon. The cyber-adaptive, paralympic-style athletic competition is hosted by ETH Zurich—a renowned science and engineering university—and highlights developing technologies that enable handicapped or paralyzed individuals to accomplish mobility, navigation, and interactions tasks with the aid of adaptive equipment. Teams from R&D companies and universities all over the world had their “pilots” compete to accomplish tasks such as:
- Changing a light bulb with no hands
- Sitting and standing with paralysis
- Ascending stair steps while in a wheelchair
- Stimulating leg muscles with electrodes to power bicycle pedalling
- Controlling a video game with BCI (brain-computer interface)
As a volunteer, I spent the first two days helping to organize and prepare the competition field. During the competition I transported equipment and reset the tracks after each pilot. Once the 2-day event was complete and the winners announced, I helped package and store the obstacles and task stations for use at the next Cybathlon.