Team March withdraws from exoskeleton competition

With a tear in her voice, Britt Sticker from Project MARCH tells us that her team has decided not to participate in the international Cybathlon competition on Saturday.

Team March has trained hard for the Cybathlon. (Photo: Jos Wassink)

This weekend (13 and 14 November) the ETH will organise the finals of the Cybathlon 2020 Global Edition in Zurich. These are the world championships for developers and users of prostheses. Saturday afternoon the exoskeleton discipline is on the programme, for which the Delft student team Project MARCH has been preparing for the past year and a half. Delta phoned the team to hear how the students assess their position. But instead of a preview, it turned out to be a conclusion, told Britt Sticker (Partnership & Public Relation).

Why aren’t you participating?
“Last Tuesday the coronary measures were tightened up and now you are only allowed to come together with two people. In order to run the match you will need catchers around for safety reasons. That’s just not possible with a maximum of two people, so unfortunately we had to decide last week to withdraw our participation. That is very disappointing, because the contest will continue. But we really cannot take part because of the corona measures. This is a choice we did not want to make because we have been working towards this event for a year and a half. The competition will continue on Saturday. At 3 pm there will be a live stream. But we won’t be there.”

Do other teams have to deal with that as well?
Symbitron, the team from the University of Twente, had already decided to withdraw because they thought it was skewed that they could participate while all other activities on campus had been shut down. Other teams are still participating. Apparently, it is still possible in other countries.”

The organisation has already firmly adapted the competition to the corona restrictions. The teams do not physically come to Zurich but follow a set obstacle course that they had to build themselves. The video recordings must be submitted to the match organisation. In this way, the tournament management keeps the number of people gathered under the legal maximum of ten as currently in force in Switzerland.

How was the team doing?
“We did all the obstacles at the presentation in August, albeit in 15 minutes when it was supposed to be six. We continued to train, three times a week. We also got new shoes with stiffer soles which seemed to work well for our team. We did at least expect to make it into the top three of the twelve teams.”

What’s next?
“We’re going to think about a closure. We would like to do that whole obstacle run again for ourselves. Or maybe in competition with Symbitron. I think we’re going to stop it completely for now. Maybe after Christmas we will dare to dream about a nice ending. Because now you can think of all sorts of things, but if all that doesn’t happen… Well, we’re not the only ones who have to deal with that. But it is sour.” 

Science editor Jos Wassink

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