Cyborg Olympics Exploiting the Power of Technology


“People who have lost limbs don’t need pity from society they need confidence that they are useful and valuable members of society. Modern technology gives this confidence.” said engineer Vasiliy Khlebnikov, one of the founders of Skolkovo’s “Motorica”. With this principle in mind, and inspired by the International Cybathlon to be held in October in Zurich, Mr. Khlebnikov and co-founder of “Motorica”, Ilya Chekh, ITMO University’s graduate, were inspired to initiate a similar event in Moscow on 13 August on the VDNKh square. Winners of the event will be sent to the international event in Zurich to compete.

What is a cybathlon? “Cybathlon is a mix between Paralympic games and Formula one” explains Mr. Khlebnikov, “the russian cybathlon - is not only a competition but an opportunity to learn about the possibilities of prostheses, and test how they work. Cybathlons differ from the Paralympic games in that Paralympics continue the tradition of the usual Olympics, follows the same rules and one has to train hard. Cybathlons are more about learning how to use modern technologies.”

The Cybathlon is no ordinary competition, participants will need to quickly carry and take different items using the prosthesis, from clothes pegs to mugs, from table to table placing them in the correct order. There are special tasks for example, like making sandwiches, the more neat and beautiful it is the higher the score. During the competition all the participants will be filmed and these films will be studied by the makers of the prosthesis and the participants of the competition to learn together how to improve the technology.

In five years, through the efforts of all those involved in innovative prosthesis, the so-called “cyborgs” will have more opportunities.” - explained Mr. Khlebnikov.

Those who have Motorica prostheses won’t participant in the event, they will act as experts and consultants for those who want to get either a new prosthetic or multi-functional electronic gadget in the foreseeable future. Engineers from the company are striving to ensure that the appearance of the prosthesis will change based on customer feedback and that all the electronic “stuff” comply with the latest technology.

“The biggest issue with dynamic and bionic prostheses is that people who buy them can not quickly master them and give up using such high-tech equipment. At the end of the day, people who have one working hand get used only using the one hand and they forget about their prosthetic. The purpose of the Cybathlon is for people to make a special effort to learn to use their prosthesis. After all, a high-tech prosthesis is almost like a high-tech machine which you need to learn to use and need training and time. Thanks to the competition people will understand that it is possible.” explained Mr. Khlebnikov