Why human beings do not have a tail is simply because, we can balanced ourselves perfectly under normal situations. However, very obviously evolution did not expect us to do things out of the norm like carrying heavy boxes or going up stairs, let alone a combination of both. But f*@k evolution because, researchers at Keio University Graduate School of Media Design is intervening with Arque, an artificial biomimicry-inspired tail for extending innate body functions to restore our balance.
In layman terms, Arque is a wearable robotic tail that attempts to mimic what tails in most mammals and vertebrate animals function do and that is to expand the animals’ mobility, or as a limb to allow manipulation and gripping (such as in monkeys). Unlike the tail of seahorse which the anthropomorphic tail draws its inspiration, Arque is totally adjustable by adding or removing the number of vertebrae. Even the weight can be tweaked to suit the intended use.
The tail is driven by four mesh-sleeved expandable bladder that serves as its artificial muscles that provide the actuation mechanism. In this particular example, Arque is a prosthetic tail that serves as an extension of a human body to provide active momentum alteration in balancing situations. However, it could also used as device to change body momentum to provide haptic feedback in, for example, a VR video game. What it can’t do is, let you grab and swing around tree branches like monkeys do. Well, at least, not yet. We are getting there, right?
Jokes aside. This is merely a research program and like many research programs, it may not have real life use. Also like many research programs, the knowledge gained from the experiments could lead to other developments that could help improve our lives.
For now, I can’t see it being of practical use considering that you will have lug a compressor around and also, a tail may get in the way more than helping to balance. Not unless it be control by our mind and lets us swing from branch to branch. OK. I am not being serious. I am about controlling with mind, though. Anyways, have a look of Arque in action in the video below.
Image: YouTube (yamen saraiji).