Researchers unveil AI robot bicycle for competition at Cybathlon

By Lim Chang-won Posted : November 2, 2020, 17:52 Updated : November 2, 2020, 17:52

[Yonhap Photo]

SEOUL -- A South Korean research team unveiled an artificial intelligence robot bicycle that will compete at this year's Cybathlon, an international competition in which people with physical disabilities compete to complete everyday tasks using state-of-the-art technical assistance systems.

At Cybathlon to be held on November 13~14 in a new format at the home base of teams instead of the Swiss Arena in Zurich due to a COVID-19 pandemic, the robot bicycle called "ImProB" will be driven by Kim Young-hoon who suffered disability in a diving accident in 2016.

"After participating in the competition, we plan to expand our research to smart mobility that can be applied not only to paralyzed patients but also to the elderly and the general public who need muscle strength support," said Shin Dong-jun, a professor of mechanical engineering at Chung-Ang University in Seoul, who has led a research team to develop the robot bicycle.

With ImProB, Shin's team said that people with paraplegic disabilities can drive at a maximum speed of 25 kilometers (15 miles) per hour and maximize their mileage through muscle fatigue compensation algorithms.

Disabled people can drive their own bicycles without external power aids such as motors, Shin's team said, adding that soft wearable suits and smart interfaces developed through biomedical simulations are ergonomically designed to enable efficient muscle strength transmission while minimizing wear dysentery and pain.

Unlike conventional exoskeleton robots, disabled people can use their own muscles without resorting to heavy motors and batteries, preventing deterioration of physical functions. It can be easily applied to those who need muscle assistance or rehabilitation.

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