From October 17th to 21st, Tokyo Big Sight in Odaiba, Tokyo, was the venue of the “World Robot Summit”. Organized by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Industry and Trade (METI) and the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), the event, aimed at featuring and promoting robots and robotic technologies, provided a glimpse into the future of this fast developing industry.
The Swiss-invented CYBATHLON, an initiative by ETH Zurich that promotes the advancement of R&D of cutting-edge assistive devices for people with disabilities and also their social inclusion, was invited to perform demos at this government-led EXPO.
Additionally, the Science & Technology Office Tokyo of the Embassy of Switzerland in Japan organized a booth with a home-like atmosphere to emphasize the goals of CYBATHLON to be useful in daily life.
The demo and the booth space enabled representatives of the CYBATHLON and team HSR Enhanced from the University of Applied Sciences in Rapperswil to present their projects to an international audience. The CYBATHLON that aims not only to promote technological innovation but also the inclusion of people with disabilities into society, attracted the attention of numerous interested visitors from all over the world.
The CYBATHLON is a championship in which a person with disabilities (called “pilot”) and a group of engineers come up with technical solutions to overcome problems the pilot encounters in his or her everyday life.
The team HSR Enhanced, led by Prof. Christian Bermes from the University of Applied Sciences in Rapperswil and consisting of a group of engineers and pilot Florian Hauser visiting the WRS, was the winner of the Powered Wheelchair Race, one of the six different disciplines at the first CYBATHLON held in 2016 in Zurich.
On the 18th of October, Ambassador Jean-Francois Paroz paid a visit to the Swiss booth at the “World Robot Summit” and watched the team showcase how pilot Florian is, thanks to their sophisticated wheelchair, able to climb up and down the stairs. Following the demo, the Ambassador engaged in a roundtable discussion with Florian Hauser (pilot), Christian Bermes (Professor, University of Applied Sciences in Rapperswil), Lukas Jäger (Cybathlon, ETH Zurich), Tadahiro Kawada (President, Kawada Technologies, Inc.) and Thomas Meyer (Head of Science and Technology Office Tokyo).
On the day before the “World Robot Summit” opened its doors, the 16th of October, a Dialogue towards an Inclusive Society – Switzerland and Japan was co-organized by the Science and Technology Office Tokyo and IBM Japan was held at the Sacred Heart Global Plaza, Sacred Heart University in Tokyo. The event attracted many highly interested visitors and culminated in a lively and engaging discussion.
Following the enthusiastic dialogue, Ambassador Paroz invited the presenters, Swiss delegation and other VIP guests to the Swiss Residence to spend a pleasant evening filled with exciting talks and exchange. Mr. Masatsugu Shimono, Vice Chairman of IBM Japan Ltd. gave a congratulatory speech after whom Mr. Takashi Hara, Director, Olympic and Paralympic Games Promotion Office, Citizens’ and Cultural Affairs Bureau of Kawasaki City gave the toast.
To wrap up the week-long visit of the Swiss CYBATHLON delegation, a technology workshop was jointly organized by the Science and Technology Office Tokyo and the Faculty/Graduate School of Science of Keio University. The workshop was intended to offer participants to the CYBATHLON Wheelchair Series Japan 2019 to be held in May 2019 the opportunity to learn more about the race rules and to exchange ideas with 2016 champion team HSR Enhanced. The Japanese teams also presented their latest technological developments which raised the motivation among all participants.