Arque the Robotic tail helps elderly people stay balanced and it’s inspired by the seahorse

The robotic tail named Arque, adjustable to the wearer’s body and could allow to stay balanced when moving quickly or handling heavy objects, has been built by Researchers at Keio University in Japan. The robotic tail could help prevent elderly people from falling over and it is inspired by the Seahorse’s tail.

According to Yamen Saraiji “For most mammals and vertebrate animals, tail plays an important role for their body providing variant functions to expand their mobility, or as a limb that allows manipulation and gripping.”

While a human with a tail may evoke our primate ancestry, researchers say that their version, a device strapped around a user’s waist. Ancient organs are still found in humans and other animals but no longer serve a purpose. For example, the coccyx is the bone at the base of the spine and has no use for modern day humans.

The Arque robotic tail could have many uses.

Researchers designed their tail to be versatile by making it adjustable to wearers depending on their height and weight. The pieces of the robotic tail are weighted, which could help the wearer maintain balance when carrying heavy objects.

The robotic tail is operated by 4 artificial muscles that use compressed air to control vertebrae along the tails spine – this requires Arque to be tethered, meaning the device is still far from mobile. The artificial muscles run along its length and use a pressurized air system to expand and contract vertebrae to create movement. Although now the tail requires an external compressor, future progress in soft robotics and tissues could help power the device on-the-go using only a battery.

Arque, the robot tail could also have applications in more practical fields like exoskeletons used in heavy construction – an increasingly legitimate field of robotics that promises to augment human ability.

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