NearLab and VBLab will participate to Cybathlon 2020

The CYBATHLON is a unique championship in which people with physical disabilities compete against each other to complete everyday tasks using state-of-the-art technical assistance systems.

Robert Riener, professor of Sensory-Motor Systems at ETH Zurich, initiated the CYBATHLON in 2013 as a platform for the development of everyday-suitable assistance systems. The first competition organised by ETH Zurich was than successfully launched in 2016. 66 pilots from 25 nations competed in six different disciplines in a sold-out stadium in Zurich.

NearLab and VBLab will participate to CYBATHLON 2020 in the FES bike discipline: pilots with complete paraplegia will participate in this race. They will pedal by artificially stimulating their nerves to produce muscle contraction.

Join this experience with us through the PASSION IN ACTION initiative.

Description of the initiative
This activity is finalized to taking part to CYBATHLON 2020 with a team from Politecnico di Milano. CYBATHLON 2020 is a unique championship in which people with physical disabilities compete against each other to complete everyday tasks using cutting-edge technical assistance systems. The championship, promoted by ETH Zurich, will take place from 2-3 May 2020 at the SWISS Arena in Kloten near Zurich and foresees six disciplines: Brain-Computer Interface, Functional Electrical Stimulation Bike (FES Bike), Powered Arm Prosthesis, Powered Leg Prosthesis, Powered Exoskeleton, Powered Wheelchair. Specifically, POLIMI will take part to the FES Bike Race, in which a pilot with complete paraplegia pedals on a passive trike exploiting his/her own paralyzed muscles through the use of Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES). FES is a well-known technique which consists to apply trains of electrical stimuli through surface electrodes placed over the skin in order to induce muscle contractions. Through this technology, people with complete Spinal Cord Injury can come back pedaling autonomously using their own legs. The rules of the race are quite challenging: the pilot has to ride eight laps on a circular race track which results in a total race distance of about 1200 m. Throughout the race, pilots must be able to best the time of their previous lap, thus challenging the robustness of the FES setup, the ability to control the stimulation and to minimize fatigue.This activity will be performed in collaboration between the CCS of Biomedical Engineering (Reference Tutors: Emilia Ambrosini, Alessandra Pedrocchi e Simona Ferrante) and of Mechanical Engineering (Reference Tutor: Marco Tarabini) and will last about three semesters. The first two semesters (second semester AY 2018/2019 and first semester AY 2019/2020) will be mainly dedicated to the development of the system, while the last semester (second semester AY 2019/2020) will be only partial and dedicated to the final optimization of the system and to the participation of the Cybathlon event in Zurich (2-3 May 2020). Therefore, it is recommended the participation of students at their first semester of Laura Magistrale of the CCS of Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering.The activity will be organized in project works performed in small groups of 2/3 students each and bimonthly meetings with the tutors for suggestions and updates about the status of the development. Different parallel tasks are foreseen: optimization of the mechanics and of seat of the trike starting from a commercial system;- integration of sensors on the trike, applying concepts typical of IoT;- definition of the stimulation strategy (muscles to stimulate, stimulation parameters, optimal stimulation ranges based on the crank angle, etc);- optimization of the stimulation strategy in order to minimize muscle fatigue (for example, using electrodes arrays to simulate the physiological turnover of the fibers);- implementation of the control system on an embedded system;- development of the user interface.
from March 2019 to May 2020
from January 1st 2019 to March 8th 2019