A team of engineers and physiotherapists from the Robotics and Multibody Mechanics laboratory (R&MM) and the research group Human Physiology and Sports Physiotherapy (MFYS) is busy preparing for the 2024 CYBATHLON. The CYBATHLON is a unique competition to promote research and development of user-centred assistive technologies, and promote inclusion for people with disabilities. It has been organized since 2016 during Olympic years by ETH Zurich.

The CYBATHLON includes various disciplines. During the first edition in 2016, the VUB team actively participated in two of these disciplines, but now in 2024, the VUB team focuses solely on the prosthetic leg race. "The goal is to draw attention the work that our students do in human-centered robot design and control, and if I can be optimistic, to win," jokes Louis Flynn of R&MM. "The rules have been tightened, and there are stricter conditions for the use of technology. Currently, we are in full preparation with measurements on people navigating a course to implement controllers for the prosthetic leg. We are also in the process of cybathlete selection, which we plan to complete by the end of April. Interested persons can still apply," says Kevin De Pauw of MFYS.

The team's participation in the 2024 CYBATHLON is part of the project "AI-driven wearable robotics for healthcare," coordinated by R&MM, with contributions from the Department of Electrical Engineering at KU Leuven and the Multibody and Mechatronic Systems Laboratory at ULiège.

"The project stems from a previous project, CYBERLEGs++, where we developed a new prototype for the hardware," says project coordinator Tom Verstraten of R&MM. "A robot prosthesis is a very complex device. To make it move in a natural and intuitive way, like a sound leg, we will ​ apply AI and machine learning," continues Tom Verstraten. "It is a significant challenge to make this operational outside a laboratory setting. The ultimate test will follow in October at the CYBATHLON itself," concludes Louis Flynn.