Arque Is a Wearable Robotic Tail for Better Balance

Arque robotic tail Keio University

Falling over in old age can have serious consequences, so a team of researchers in Japan have developed a robotic tail that can be worn to help maintain balance.

As Reuters reports, the tail is called Arque and has been developed at Keio University in Tokyo. It mimics the tails of animals and the structure of the design is based on a seahorse tail. It’s roughly one meter in length (but adjustable) and straps to your waist to act much like a pendulum.

Movement is possible through eight directions using four artificial muscles and compressed air. When the wearer tilts in one direction, the tail reacts automatically to counter the movement and maintain good balance whatever the position.

Arque was demonstrated at SIGGRAPH 2019, which was held in Los Angeles earlier this month. Although it’s an unusual body accessory, the tail looks lightweight enough to easily be worn all day and you’d probably soon forget it was there. For now, though, it’s just a project in a Keio University lab because the research team wants to make it more flexible and clearly needs to miniaturize some of the components it relies on to function.

With Japan’s population aging quickly, the nation would benefit from any gadgets that allow people to work longer into old age. If this robotic tail gets perfected we could experience a future where lots of old people are seen walking around with a tail. That would be both bizarre and encouraging at the same time as many of us would try anything to remain more independent well into old age.

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