Cybathlon: Kevin Piette, the bionic athlete who makes technology evolve



It’s like the robotics Olympics. The second edition of the Cybathlon is held on Friday November 13 and Saturday November 14 on the internet due to Covid-19. Disabled athletes from all over the world equipped with bionic prostheses compete in daily tasks to be performed as quickly as possible at home, under the supervision of a referee. France is represented by Kevin Piette, a 32-year-old who became a paraplegic eight years ago.

In his living room, Kevin Piette exhibits around twenty trophies on shelves: “on the right, they are tennis cups, on the left, motorcycle cups”, the memories of a devastated athlete’s life after an accident in March 2012 which made him completely lose the use of his legs. “Following that, it begins the discovery of a new way of living, says Kevin. I had this accident at 23 and for me it was out of the question to spend the rest of my life sitting on the couch zapping. I think I was already a dynamic person and suddenly that helped me. “

He then resumed sport, paratennis and met the team from the Wandercraft company, which developed Atalante, an exoskeleton, a kind of motorized armor that allows paraplegics to walk again in balance on their legs. Wandercraft then offered him to participate in the Cybathlon. “When I had my accident, if I had been told that I was going to participate in an exoskeleton competition, it is clear that I would have said to you ‘What world am I going to live in?’ I would have been like ‘What is this whole thing going to be?’ “

Kevin Piette gets to know this 70-kilogram exoskeleton and trains four to six hours a week.

I still remember seeing the exoskeleton the first time and thinking to myself, ‘My God, what is this big thing? But hey, how do they want it to work? ‘

Kevin Piette

to franceinfo

But through hard work, Kevin revealed the machine’s full potential. “He was in a great state of mind, says Mathieu Masselin, boss of Wandercraft. He’s a competitor, we felt that every time there was an event that didn’t pass, he really took it to heart, he wanted to start all over again, do very, very long training sessions. “

Kevin also participated in the evolution of the machine, as explained by Véyi Yuine, the engineer in charge of the competition. “He gave a lot of feedback on everything we did. He was really able to tell us the tough spots, the critical spots and he really allowed us to improve our product.”

Kevin Piette is already thinking about the next Cybathlon competition, in 2024, but he wants to continue working on exoskeletons to one day improve his daily life and that of people with disabilities.



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