At the SIGGRAPH conference in Los Angeles, Japanese engineers from Keio University presented a new unconventional element for the exoskeletons of the future - a robotic tail. Unlike toys already available in online stores, this device has a practical purpose. The movable and flexible tail serves as a counterweight when moving heavy objects.
Robotail consists of vertebral segments that can be rearranged in places, replacing large elements with small ones. Between the vertebrae there is a place for fastening weights, they are connected to each other by servo drives. The system consists of four artificial muscles with pneumatic drive, for the prototype to work requires an external source of compressed air. But the authors of the development promise to eliminate this drawback by making the tail truly mobile.
The main advantage of the Arque's tail is its controllability, this mechanism can move relative to the body of the wearer and thereby influence the center of gravity of the system from the person with the load. It is necessary to take a heavy object in one hand - the tail will turn in the opposite direction to create a counterweight. When the current work is completed, the tail folds and presses against the body without interfering with the operator. Its size, weight and behavior can be customized for a wide range of applications.
Among potential users of the artificial tail, in addition to loaders, there may be disabled people and special services employees. For example, the counterbalance is useful for the leader of the assault group, who is carrying heavy armor. Another area of application of the development is virtual reality systems, where the presence of a movable tail will add new sensations when playing for different characters.