Queen Mary student team to build robotic wheelchair for Cybathlon 2020

3 May 2018

Cybathlon team members
Cybathlon team members
A team of science and engineering students from Queen Mary University of London will design a robotic wheelchair with a plan to compete in Cybathlon 2020 - a global competition for people with disabilities.

The team, which consists of students from the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), the School of Engineering and Materials Science (SEMS) and the School of Medicine and Dentistry (SMD), was announced at a recent launch event on campus.

They hope to develop robotic mobility assistance technology to compete in the Cybathlon powered wheelchair race in which pilots race against each other to overcome several obstacles that are typical in daily life for a wheelchair user.

Cybathlon is an international championship in which people with disabilities or physical weakness use advanced assistive devices, including robotic technologies, to compete against each other and solve everyday tasks. The next edition will take place in May 2020, in Zurich, Switzerland.

Cybathlon aims to encourage teams to come up with innovative solutions to cope with the challenges often faced by people with a disability.

Other events in the competition include the powered arm prosthesis race, powered leg prosthesis race, the powered exoskeleton race, the brain-computer interface race and the functional electrical stimulation bike race.

Dr Ildar Farkhatdinov, from EECS and team supervisor, said: “Cybathlon will introduce students from different schools to a collaborative working environment, as well as provide practice to work towards a long term goal which will require careful strategic planning and a clear future vision. Potentially, more than 100 Queen Mary students may be involved over the next two years of preparation for the competition so it’s a great opportunity.”

Mr Yunus Kutlu, a third year engineering student and a team leader, said: “We are mixed group of engineers and designers brought together by our love of innovation and invention. Throughout our Cybathlon journey, we will work to improve the lives of those that have been unfortunate enough to be affected by a disability. Hopefully we can raise awareness of the cause of such an amazing competition which aims to educate people on the difficulties faced by nearly 15 per cent of the global population.”

The majority of the Queen Mary team is composed of undergraduate students, with one PhD student and one masters student coordinating the group under the supervision of Dr Ildar Farkhatdinov, Dr Dylan Morrissey (William Harvey Research Institute in SMD) and Professor Kaspar Althoefer (EECS and SEMS). Based in the Centre for Advanced Robotics at Queen Mary (ARQ), the team combines students with computer science skills, mechanical engineering skills and expertise in sports medicine and human biomechanics.

They received funding from the Queen Mary Westfield and Drapers' Fund to support the launch and development during the first year. This fund enabled them to develop the infrastructure, acquire materials and equipment and create the community of students who will work together towards the competition in 2020.

The students, who can be contacted through their website (link below), are also looking for any further help, collaboration or sponsorship opportunities to develop the project.

Updated by: Laura Crane-Brewer