Scientists Build an Artificial Biomimicry-Inspired Tail Just for Humans

Created to improve balance in humans, this biomechanical tail functions similarly to that of monkeys and seahorses.
Fabienne Lang

Imagine leaping from tree to tree with the assistance of a tail, one that could cling to branches and tree trunks and provide extra balance at the same time? 

Wearable devices such as hands and tails have been around the tech and gadget world for a while now, and are being updated and improved continuously. That's exactly what a group of Japanese scientists from Keio University in Japan have been working on, and have now created. 


Enter Arque: a biomimicry-inspired tail based off of vertebrate animals' passive use of their tails, such as dogs and monkeys. However, this particular tail is built off of the model of a seahorse's tail.

The purpose? To improve balance and movement.


The main reasons for Arque's creation are to improve balance and movement, specifically when moving large objects or balancing our body weight when trying to reach high and sometimes heavy articles.

It could prove extremely useful for the elderly with limited mobility and balance.

Designed as a wearable pneumatic tail, adjustable to height, weight, and width to fit any type of human body, it uses compressed air and the four artificial muscles embedded into its tail to move around accordingly. It currently functions attached to an air compressor, which pumps the vertebrae with air and pushes them to move in the correct format. 

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Scientists Build an Artificial Biomimicry-Inspired Tail Just for Humans
An Arque vertebra. Source: J. Nabeshima et al./ACM Digital Library

Each vertebra is adjustable and removable to accommodate different heights, weights can be added or removed to each vertebra, and there is an adjustable belt buckle where the tail is fitted to the human body. 

Scientists Build an Artificial Biomimicry-Inspired Tail Just for Humans
Arque in motion. Source: Yamen Saraiji/YouTube

The plan is for Arque to function as a freestanding, or free fitting tail in the future. The researchers hope it can also be used in virtual reality environments, not just for equilibrium maintenance. 

There won't be any Tarzan-like leaping from tree to tree quite yet, but that may be in store soon enough.