Human robotic tail

Human with robotic tail invention

Looking for a walk on the wild side? Inventors have created a robotic tail designed to be worn by humans.

Andrew Shoben, 43, of London, produces lifelike tails which can be worn by anyone wishing to showcase their inner animal.

The 60cm-long tail moves convincingly in one of 36 selectable patterns which allow it to stand up on end, tremble, twist and even bob along to music.

With top models of the 3D-printed product costing up to £230 apiece, the artificial appendage makes for a luxury fashion accessory.

Mr Shoben said the tail, which is produced by his company Greyworld, serves little practical purpose.

He said: “It might improve your balance slightly – why not use it for tightrope walking? Really, it’s all about being playful and relaxed in a world which can be very straight-laced and serious.

“There’s something cheeky about owning a tail. Imagine queuing at the bank, and your tail keeps wagging from side to side, knocking all the pens from the counter.”

The tail attaches to the user’s belt and is made of intricate 3D-printed parts and fine steel cables. There are four different options available to potential tail owners.

The lowest-cost option, at £98, includes a motor and battery pack which slips into the user’s front or back pocket. The £120 model comes with a choice of an artificial fur cover, while an extra £30 will buy you a second cover and a certificate of tail ownership.

The £230 package comes with a certificate, three tail covers and a wooden display box.
Mr Shoben said: “The tail is customisable and can be completely individual to the wearer. If someone wants transform it into a dragon or lizard’s tail, they can cover it with scaley material.

“A guy came up to me once and asked if it would be possible for him to attach eight of the tails to a girdle around his waist so that he would look like an octopus. We knocked it up in the studio and I have to say it looked pretty good.”

Mr Shoben first came up with the idea for the tail back in 2006 and spent six years working on a prototype.

He said: “We spent about nine months studying cat tails and dog tails – you can look at a cat or dog’s tail and instantly determine their mood.

“Other robotic tails which already existed just wagged from left to right like a pendulum, but it was very important for us to create a tail which could do all the things a real tail can do.

“We spent a lot of time studying the sinews that run down the side of the tail and allow it to curl, bend and stand on end.”

In 2012 Mr Shoben sought crowdfunding through a Kickstater campaign which exceeded its £10,000 goal by more than £2,000.

Since the tail was released to the public earlier this year Mr Shoben has sold more than 1,000 tails to more than 20 countries worldwide, including Britain, America, Australia and Italy.

Mr Shoben said: “America is the biggest market, but we’ve sold tails across Europe, Australia and even a couple in the Baltic states. It just goes to show you people want an extra limb wherever they are in the world.”

While the tail is currently controlled by the user with a remote control, Mr Shoben is looking into ways for the next model to act independently from the wearer.

He said: “The current one we are working has galvanic skin responder in the base of the tail which will hopefully allow the tail to react to your mood without any controls. For now people will just have to be happy controlling their own tail.”

More high resolution pictures and video are available on request. To discuss rates for using pictures and copy, contact news editor Tom Knight on 07815 004413 or tom@medavia.co.uk.

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