International Asia Japanese researchers build robotic tail to help ageing population

Japanese researchers build robotic tail to help ageing population

The Arque is designed to help unsteady elderly people keep their balance and find a new level of productivity in their later years

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Japanese researchers are pushing the boundaries of science by creating a robotic tail that extends innate bodily functions—a solution to keep the elderly mobile and productive as the country deals with an ageing population and a decreasing workforce.

While robotic tails may seem like science fiction, in Japan, they are a reality. A research team at Japan’s Keio University have built an artificial biomimicry-inspired anthropomorphic tail, which they call Arque, that could help unsteady elderly people keep their balance and find a new level of productivity in their later years.

Arque is a grey, one-metre long robotic tail that allows humans to alter body momentum for assistive and haptic feedback applications. It mimics animal tails, like those of cheetahs and other animals whose tails allow them to keep their balance while climbing and running.

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Most mammals and vertebrate animals rely on their tails to providing variant functions to expand their mobility, and they even use them as a limb that allows manipulation and gripping.

Arque has adjacent joints with a spring-based structure, which handles shearing and tangential forces and allows managing the length and weight of the target tail.

Four pneumatic artificial muscles power the internal structure of the tail, providing the actuation mechanism for the tail tip.

Photo: Arque is made up of adjacent joints with a spring-based structure/YouTube screen grab

This prosthetic tail is being introduced as an extension of the human body to actively assist in situations requiring balance or alter body momentum as needed.

Japan is currently facing the same issue as Singapore—having a predominantly aging population and a shrinking workforce.

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