On Tuesday, June 28, more than 100 people found their way to FabCafe Tokyo in Shibuya to be part of the Cybathlon Pep Rally. The event was organized by the S&T Office Tokyo to introduce the three participating teams from Japan and to inform the Japanese public about the Cybathlon taking place on October 8 in Zurich as well as about Switzerland’s innovative side. The participating three teams are Meltin MMI, RT-Movers (Wakayama University) and Xiborg; detailed program and team introduction can be found here.
Cybathlon is an international competition for individuals with physical disabilities assisted by latest technologies including robotics and biomechatronics. On Saturday, October 8, 2016, the first ever competitions will be initiated and organized by ETH Zurich. The three Japanese teams will be competing in four of six disciplines—Powered Arm Prosthesis, Powered Leg Prosthesis, Powered Wheelchair and FES Bike races. Unfortunately, no Japanese team will be taking part in neither the Powered Exoskeleton nor the BCI Races (Brain-Computer Interface Race).
The first part of the Pep Rally was targeting the media. Major Swiss and Japanese TV stations sent teams and countless print as well as online news papers were present with journalists. The presentation of S&T Office Head Dr. Matthias Frey on innovative Switzerland called “Tour de Suisse for Geeks”, and an introduction to FabCafe by founder Daiki Kanaoka, was followed by a life Skype interview with Cybathlon initiator Professor Robert Riener from ETH Zurich. The media were given the possibility to ask questions directly. Afterwards, the three teams presented themselves, showing their cutting-edge devices and videos of their work. The athlete, called “pilot”, for the Meltin MMI team, Kazuya Maeda, travelled to Tokyo all the way from Hokkaido to be present. Finally, the first part was concluded with a Swiss wine and cheese reception, where the journalists got the chance to interview the participants directly.
Part two was organized for a wider public: A large audience gathered at FabCafe– from students interested in the robotics and technology aspects, to people wondering about the geeky side of Switzerland, to several disabled people who know the shortcomings of conventional prostheses from first-hand. In part 2, Mr. Akihito Niikura (Group Leader, Eastern Japan Solution Marketing Group, Robotics Business Promotion Unit, Human Care Division) of Daiwa House Industry Co., Ltd., gave a vivid introduction to achievements and realities of promoting robotic technologies in society.
During the concluding reception, lively discussions among the audience and participants evolved, facilitated by Swiss wine and cheese.
The whole event was a great success, taking a first step towards realizing one of Cybathlon’s key missions, the inclusion of disabled people into society.
We would like to thank the three teams for their inspiring work and presentations, MC Ayumi Oki for her cheerful announcements, Daiki Kanaoka and Akihito Niikura for their great introductions, Steve Funasho from Maxon Motor Japan for his Kanpai speech and all the supporters for their help!
Let us cheer for all the teams again on October 8 when they are competing in Switzerland at the Cybathlon!