- Title: Wearable robotic tail gives humans better balance
- Date: 14th August 2019
- Summary: YOKOHAMA, JAPAN (AUGUST 14, 2019) (REUTERS) KEIO UNIVERSITY RESEARCHER JUNICHI NABESHIMA PUTTING ON ARQUE ROBOTIC TAIL NAMBESHIMA MOVING IN DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS AND ARQUE SUPPORTING HIS BALANCE VARIOUS OF ARQUE ON DISPLAY (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) KEIO UNIVERSITY GRADUATE STUDENT AND RESEARCHER AT EMBODIED MEDIA PROJECT, JUNICHI NABESHIMA, SAYING: "This is a tail that aids in balance. For example, when a human tilts the body like this, the tail moves in the opposite direction than that of the tilted direction. The tail keeps a balance like a pendulum. This is our robotic tail." VARIOUS OF TAIL MOVING (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) KEIO UNIVERSITY GRADUATE STUDENT AND RESEARCHER AT EMBODIED MEDIA PROJECT, JUNICHI NABESHIMA, SAYING: "The tails on animals move as an expression of emotion. Of course, there is a function in the tail we've designed to express emotion with movement, but not only that, when a cheetah chases its prey, the tail supports its centre of gravity, and similarly the tail we developed supports this balance because we want to return this balance to the human body." ARQUE MOVING NABESHIMA AND ARQUE (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) KEIO UNIVERSITY GRADUATE STUDENT AND RESEARCHER AT EMBODIED MEDIA PROJECT, JUNICHI NABESHIMA, SAYING: "With images of real-life people in mind, such as those doing work involving heights, unstable footing, and of course the old people who lose their sense of balance, we are continuing to develop our product for further real-life applications." NABESHIMA CHECKING ARQUE PARTS (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) KEIO UNIVERSITY GRADUATE STUDENT AND RESEARCHER AT EMBODIED MEDIA PROJECT, JUNICHI NABESHIMA, SAYING: "I've seen widely the configuration of prosthetic appliances, I think it would be nice to incorporate this further developed prosthetic tail in daily life in a form in which one can choose the robotic tail as an option when one seeks a little more assistance in balance." NABESHIMA AND COLLEAGUE CHECKING AND TESTING ARQUE
- Embargoed: 28th August 2019 10:49
- Keywords: robotic tail wearable robotic tail Keio University wearable technology aging populations Arque robotic tail
- Location: YOKOHAMA, JAPAN
- City: YOKOHAMA, JAPAN
- Country: Japan
- Topics: Science,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA001AS6X4RD
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Millions of years after the ancestors of humans evolved to lose their tails, a research team at Japan's Keio University have built a robotic one they say could help unsteady elderly people keep their balance.
Dubbed Arque, the grey one-meter device mimics tails such as those of cheetahs and other animals used to keep their balance while running and climbing, according to the Keio team.
"The tail keeps balance like a pendulum," said Junichi Nabeshima, a graduate student and researcher at the university's Embodied Media Project, displaying the robotic tail attached to his waist with a harness.
"When a human tilts their body one way, the tail moves in the opposite direction."
As Japan greys it is leading the industrial world in seeking ways to keep its ageing population mobile and productive.
While other nations have turned to immigrant workers to replenish a shrinking workforce, less welcoming Japan has focused more on a technological solution.
The robotic tail, which uses four artificial muscles and compressed air to move in eight directions, will remain in the lab for now, however, as researchers look for ways to make it more flexible, Nabeshima said.
Apart from helping the elderly get around, the team are also looking at industrial applications for the artificial appendage, such as a balance aid for warehouse workers carrying heavy loads.
"I think it would be nice to incorporate this further developed prosthetic tail into daily life, when one seeks a little more help balancing," Nabeshima said.
(Production: Yasuteru Ueda, Akiko Okamoto)
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