Researchers say robotic tail could help prevent falls

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LONDON (CBS) The futuristic invention is hard to miss-- a 3-foot robotic tail designed to keep the elderly from falling.

A Japanese student researcher said the tail helps people balance. For example, when a human tilts their body, the tail moves in the opposite direction. It keeps balance like a pendulum.

A Japanese research team invented the device that attaches to a person's waist and mimics the tails of cheetahs and monkeys.

It uses four artificial muscles and compressed air to move in eight directions.

For now, researchers say the tail will remain in the lab until they design a more flexible version.