KAWASAKI — Eight teams from Japan and overseas participated in an electric wheelchair race in Kawasaki on Sunday, competing along a challening course.
The competition, Cybathlon Wheelchair Series Japan 2019, was the first-ever single-discipline event affiliated with Cybathlon, a quadrennial international parasports event in which people with disabilities compete to complete tasks essential to everyday life with the help of advanced technologies.
Cybathlon features six disciplines, including events for electric wheelchair users and athletes with prosthetic hands. After the first Cybathlon in Switzerland in 2016, organizers decided to hold single-discipline events worldwide separate from the original Cybathlon to raise awareness for the flagship event.
A team from Keio University’s faculty of science and technology deployed an electric wheelchair developed by studying the mobility of field robots dispatched to disaster sites, among other technologies. The team won third place behind a Swiss team, which finished first, and a team from Russia.
“We’d like to improve [our wheelchair] in time for the second series next year, so that it’ll be able to automatically recognize a door knob. Our goal is to make it work in everyday life,” said Genya Ishigami, an associate professor at Keio who led the university’s team.