Third Leg

A prototype robot tail, inspired by that of a seahorse, can help users balance or maybe make VR gaming more immersive.

The Keio University scientists who built the tail call it Arque, according to Fast Company. With built-in artificial muscles and vertebrae, the tail uses a pneumatic system to bend and move along with the wearer, acting as a smart counterbalance as they lean over or sway. While the robot tail is still fairly limited in functionality, it’s an unusual glimpse into the future of human-augmenting technology.

Supervillain Status

It’s too soon to pick up a new robot tail to use as a robotic cane, like the one Columbia University engineers developed last month. While the Keio University team behind Arque say their creation could someday be used to help people balance or carry heavy loads, the prototype system isn’t mobile yet. It needs to be anchored down to a massive air pump that powers its muscles.

Still, if a more functional version of Arque ever comes through the pipeline, it could give us Doctor Octopus-style enhancements. Or at the very least, per Fast Company, the tail could knock its wearer around and throw them off balance to make virtual reality games a lot more immersive and interesting.

READ MORE: Robotic tails for humans are here [Fast Company]

More on human augmentation: Japan Pledges $900 Million to Cyborg Human Hibernation Research