Cybathlon Challenge 2022

Indonesia Secures First Victory in International CYBATHLON Challenges Through Karla Bionics - An ITB-affiliated Startup - in the Arm Prosthesis Race (ARM)


5/17/20223 min read

Bandung, May 17 - Karla Bionics emerged victorious at the CYBATHLON-Challenges event in May 2022, where scientists, researchers, and individuals with disabilities competed to complete tasks with the fastest time across four disciplines:

1. Arm Prosthesis Race (ARM)
2. Exoskeleton Race (EXO)
3. Leg Prosthesis Race (LEG)
4. Wheelchair Race (WHL)

Indonesia Participates in CYBATHLON Challenges for the First Time

Representing Indonesia, Karla Bionics became the first participant from Indonesia to compete in CYBATHLON Challenges, which is based in Zurich, Switzerland. On this occasion, Karla Bionics participated in the Arm Prosthesis Race (ARM) discipline to test the "K22BP Prosthetic Arm," a prosthetic arm developed with affordability in mind, making it accessible to people from various segments of society facing disability challenges.

Karla Bionics secured third place, competing against teams from Sweden, France, and Spain in CYBATHLON CHALLENGES 2022. CYBATHLON is an international-scale competition that is a non-profit project of ETH Zurich, held every four years since 2016 in Zurich, Switzerland. This competition challenges teams from around the world to develop everyday assistive technology for people with disabilities. Due to the pandemic, CYBATHLON had the idea to decentralize the competition to various parts of the world, allowing Karla Bionics to participate in CYBATHLON CHALLENGES from Bandung, Indonesia, with the event broadcast virtually to Zurich, Switzerland.

Harmonizing Appropriate Technology and Karla Bionics' Pilot Expertise Captures the World's Attention

The user of the prosthetic arm, known as a Pilot in this competition, from Karla Bionics is Yayat Supriatna, a rock drummer with a disability who collaborated with Karla Bionics to develop this prosthetic arm. In this competition, it was not only the performance of the technology that was tested but also the skill of the pilot in controlling the technology.

Although the prosthetic arm technology developed by Karla Bionics is considered relatively simple compared to its competitors, it was the harmonious coordination between Yayat, the Pilot, and the user-friendly technology that allowed Karla Bionics to impress various parties at the CYBATHLON Challenge. "With an approach that aligns with Indonesia's social and economic context, our technology is functionally equivalent to technologies developed in Western countries," explained Wildan Trusaji, the Inventor and Team Manager at Karla Bionics.

The preparation process for Yayat and the Karla Bionics team was relatively short, but Yayat was adept at finding various strategies to move objects quickly, efficiently, and without errors. Syaiful Hammam, the designer of the "K22BP Prosthetic Arm" at Karla Bionics, said, "The trick is practice. Initially, we tried with objects that were similar, such as keys, pens, cards, marbles, and coins, experimenting with each until we knew how to grasp and move them."

Development Process of the "K22BP Prosthetic Arm"

The development process of the "K22BP Prosthetic Arm" has been ongoing for five years, with the initial focus on solving the functional and cost-related challenges of prosthetic arms. The biggest challenge in this development process was actually finding the core philosophy of the bionic arm before determining the suitable mechanism for the bionic arm.

After extensive research and direct communication with people with disabilities, such as Yayat Supriatna, about their needs for a prosthetic arm, Karla Bionics formulated the philosophy or concept that a prosthetic arm should not resemble a regular arm so that people with disabilities do not need to hide their differences. "When disabled individuals who are not in a 'good' mental state (accepting their condition) are given prosthetic arms for free, they often prefer mannequin-like arms that resemble regular arms to cover up their condition," explained Wildan.

Based on this, the prosthetic arms designed by Karla Bionics are intended to celebrate uniqueness. Their appearance is made to resemble robotics to create a strong initial impression for anyone who sees them. Through the "K22BP Prosthetic Arm," Karla Bionics hopes to spread the message of #proudactive, which means accepting one's current condition with pride and staying actively engaged in activities that benefit their immediate environment.

Karla Bionics Develops Two Types of Prosthetic Arms with Different Mechanisms: Electronics Powered and Body Powered

In its development process, Karla Bionics collaborated with people with disabilities for the past three years to create prosthetic arm technology with two different mechanisms, both based on the principle of affordability for all segments of society. These two mechanisms are Body Powered, operated through other parts of the body, and Electronics Powered, operated using electrical power. The opportunity to compete in CYBATHLON Challenge also served as a test for one of Karla Bionics' prosthetic arm technologies, the "K22BP Prosthetic Arm" with a Body Powered mechanism. Meanwhile, the prosthetic arms with Electronics Powered mechanisms are still in development by Karla Bionics.

The manufacturing process of the "K22BP Prosthetic Arm" uses the whippletree mechanism to create an intuitive gripping feature powered by the body's movements. To boost the user's confidence, the arm is designed with a bionic appearance made from heated Polyvinyl Chloride to form the arm. Additionally, the arm also adapts a socket structure from running shoes, making it comfortable for long-term use.