Para-Athlete Takes First Steps in the Exoskeleton Created For His Race at the 2016 Cybathlon

In preparation for the 2016 Cybathlon in Zürich, a competition for disabled athletes using advanced assistive devices, pilot Mark Daniel took his first steps in the X1 powered exoskeleton by IHMC Robotics in Pensacola, Florida. Daniel, who lost the use of his legs in 2007, joined the lab as full time research intern and has huge goals for the future.

Mark anticipates the Cybathlon to make a huge stride in technology and awareness to improve quality of life for those with loss of mobility due to injury or illness across the world. While working with IHMC, Mark will also be designing an off-road wheelchair for his next adventure. After the Cybathlon, Mark will make the first attempt by a paraplegic to complete the 4,834 mile American Discovery Trail.

The race encompasses daily challenges that would otherwise prove incredibly difficult for the “pilot” without the use of an assistive device.

The race requires that the pilot, the term used for the para-athlete wearing the exoskeleton, have a spinal cord injury with paralysis in the legs. The race starts with the pilot wearing the exoskeleton seated on the sofa. There are six tasks related to daily life: getting up from a sofa, walking around obstacles, up a ramp to open and walk through a door, walk over stepping stones, walk over uneven floor, and walk up and down stairs. There will be four identical obstacle courses with athletes competing head-to-head for the fastest time.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.