Japan develops robotic ‘tail’ to help people with balance and stop falling over

Japan is famous for its many innovations but a robotic tail for humans?

They’re serious. Researchers at Keio University in Japan have developed a robotic tail which will balance out the human body to be used instead of a cane and especially help seniors from loosing their balance and falling over.  

It is also designed to help wearers stay balanced when they move quickly or are carrying heavy objects.

This robotic tail is inspired by the tail of a seahorse which is so strong it can withstand the bite of a predator and yet it is flexible enough to grip ahold of things in its surroundings like coral.

This robotic tail called the Arqueis made up of modular ‘vertebrae’ and can be adjusted to fit whoever is wearing it by removing or adding a vertebrae. Small weights can also be added to the inside of each vertebrae in order to offset the wearer’s weight. According to the researchers this will help especially when the wearer has to move quickly or may have to lift and carry very heavy objects.

The Arque,acts as a counterbalance once it is adjusted to the wearer’s height and weight. It has artificial muscles within it which controls its movements by contracting or expanding with the use of an external pressurized air device that looks like a vacuum cleaner or lawn mower.

Because the robotic tail is attached at all times to this pressurized air machine, it cannot be used by the wearer for long distances.

Researchers are working on finding a way to make this robotic tail device mobile so that laborers who have to carry heavy loads can have better support or even as an active device to help younger people who have balance problems move around in greater distances.

Yamen Saraiji, who is the Project Senior Assistant Professor with the Keio University Graduate School of Media Design says that in most mammals and vertebrate animals that have tails, their tails play an important function in the expanding of their body’s ability to be mobile as well as helping them to manipulate and grip.

The Arquewas presented at the recent 2019 SIGGRAPH conference which took place in in Los Angeles, CA which focuses on graphics, gaming, and current emerging technology. It was demonstrated in the use of gaming to make the game feel more realistic to the player.

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