About the Discipline
Standing upright and walking with paraplegia
Robotic exoskeletons are devices that enable people with paraplegia to stand upright, walk, or go up and down stairs. Even though robotic exoskeletons have been in development since the late 1960s and early 1970s, the technology has not matured to a point where the devices are accepted by the end users. The user-friendliness of current exoskeletons is limited by shortcomings such as a limited ability to adapt their movement patterns to situations, and time-consuming procedures for fitting them to the person and taking them off. The cognitive burden for the pilot combined with the need for crutches impedes the user from performing secondary tasks while walking. Current devices do not offer a genuine alternative to the wheelchair yet. However, the prolonged use of a wheelchair can also be associated with general health problems such as symptoms in the arms and shoulders due to overuse, or osteoporosis in the lower limbs. Robotic exoskeletons enabling an upright posture and gait for paraplegic users have the promising potential to alleviate many of the shortcomings associated with prolonged wheelchair use mentioned above. Being able to communicate with peers at eye level while standing is a frequently mentioned additional feature of exoskeleton use.
Compared with 2020, the competition tasks will generally include greater variability and uncertainty about the exact structure or exact arrangement of the various objects. Amongst the things that will be tested will be solving problems under a time constraint, such as boarding and leaving a public bus, and overall body balance, such as walking with the exoskeleton without crutches. Some of the competition tasks will contain dynamic elements to which the pilots have to react.
Who can participate?
People with paraplegia and a complete loss of motor function in their legs due to a spinal cord injury.
The exoskeleton can be operated in manual, semi-autonomous or autonomous mode. If crutches or walking sticks are used, they must be carried by the pilot throughout the entire race. Any kind of input device or automated detection of gait intention, as well as any type of joint actuation, including passive joints, are allowed. The use of technical aids such as ultrasound to collect information about the environment is also permitted.
Information for Teams:
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