Robots running sprints. Driverless auto races. Robotic table tennis. Those are just some of the event planned for the first World Future Sports Games scheduled to be held in Dubai December 28-30, 2017, and every two years thereafter. Get ready for stands filled with metallic fans chanting in tinny voices, "U-S-A! U-S-A!"
Ok, the fans won’t be robots but the competitors will be. The games were announced at the World Drone Prix (WDP) 2016 also held in Dubai where 15-year-old UK drone pilot Luke Bannister drone racing team won the $250,000 first prize in a competition that will also be included in the first World Future Sports Games.
Dubai will activate future sports as a catalyst to drive innovation and research and development around the world.
That’s the promise of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Dubai Museum of the Future Foundation. The World Federation of Future Sports – the Games’ organizer and ruling body - is an initiative of Dubai Museum of the Future Foundation which is an incubator for innovation ideas.
The Games will consist of nine competitions: driverless car racing, robotic soccer, robotic running competitions, manned drones racing, robotic swimming, robotic table tennis, robotic wrestling, drones races and cybathlon competition.
While most of the events pick winners based on the fastest or strongest, one is designed to also test new innovations in bionic assistive technology devices for humans with physical disabilities
That event is the cybathlon. Organized by ETH (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) Zurich, it will debut as an international competition in October 2016 in Zurich, Switzerland. Unlike the Paralympics, which only allows non-powered assistance like prosthetic legs, the cybathlon permits performance-enhancing technology such as powered exoskeletons. The six events in the cybathlon are a Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) bicycle race, leg race, wheelchair race, exoskeleton race, arm prosthetics race, and a race for competitors with paralysis using brain-computer interfaces to compete in a computer game.
Dubai’s massive wealth and opulent excesses get much criticism, but the World Future Sports Games and especially the cybathlon event may be worth the expense for the technological and bionic benefits and developments they can influence.
Not to mention the chance to see robotic wrestlers giving each other dropkicks, piledrivers and sleeper holds.