Change the world

17/11/2020

Engineering students and academics from Nelson Mandela University and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) represented South Africa in the 2020 Global Cybathlon Championship hosted by Switzerland last weekend. 

The Team, with the support of the Robotics Association of South Africa, were the only participants selected from Africa.

The Cybathlon is a unique, international multisport event with 60 teams from 20 countries taking part. The championship in which people with physical disabilities compete against each other to complete everyday tasks using state-‚Äčof-the-art technical assistance systems is beyond just a competition – it also offers a platform to advance research in the field of assistive technology and to promote dialogue with the public about the inclusion of people with disabilities in everyday life.

Our Touch Hand team finished 11th out of 13 international competitors in their section, which featured mainly research and private sector entries. Sadly, a faulty tin can opener, supplied by the organisers deprived them of ending in the top 9. "Anything above that would have been beyond their reach with their current iteration as a massive funding injection as well as years of experience would be required" said Clive Hands from the Advanced Engineering Design Group (AEDG) in Mandela University’s School of Engineering.

The team finished above both the UK and Germany and the media attention gained was extremely encouraging. “Our students did us proud” said Clive.

The Touch Hand team - from left, Jode Fourie, Zaahid Imran, Sthuthi Varghese, Clive Hands, Lungile Dick (pilot), Daniel Trask all from Mandela University and Prof Riaan Stopforth from UKZN.

This was also the first cross-institutional collaboration between Mandela University and UKZN via the Stopforth Mechatronics Laboratory and featured many private sector supporters.

"The true purpose of our research and development is to make a difference in a person's life, not money. And that is what drives and motivates us." says Riaan Stopforth, Touch Hand's director. The South African team has been specialising in low-cost arm prostheses since 2013 to make them affordable for low-income households and countries while still incorporating advanced technologies.

The Touch Hand team will be in the AEDG Lab (E005) on the University’s North Campus at 11:00 on 18 November 2020 to demonstrate the Touch Hand prosthesis for anyone interested to see the device in action (the amputee pilot won't be there but the team can still activate the hand's various functions). All COVID-19 protocols must be followed to gain access to the lab in terms of wearing masks, sanitising and social distancing.

 

Contact information
Mr Clive Hands
Lecturer
Tel: 27 41 504 3375
Clive.Hands@mandela.ac.za