YOKOHAMA, Japan - A research team at Japan's Keio University have built a robotic tail they said could help unsteady elderly people keep their balance.
Dubbed Arque, the gray, 3-foot-long device mimics tails such as those of cheetahs and other animals used to keep their balance while running and climbing.
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As Japan's population has become increasingly aged, it is leading the industrial world in seeking ways to keep its senior members 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.
Researchers said that the robotic tail, which uses four artificial muscles and compressed air to move in eight directions, will remain in the lab for now. They are still looking for ways to make it even more flexible.
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.