Why Robots That Bend Are Better

Feb 18, 2021
2 148 895 Views

Robots of the future may be softer, squishier and bendier than robots today. This could make them ideal for space exploration. Check out kiwico.com/Veritasium50 for 50% off your first month of any subscription!
On Thursday February 18th, 2021 the NASA Perseverance Rover will land on Mars. It is a wonderful robot, made out of steel and wire - but will future robots look like Perseverance? There is an emerging field of research on "soft robots", where the machines are flexible. These soft robots have many advantages over traditional robots - they're safer, lighter, more flexible and can change their shape and size.
NASA is investigating the use of soft robots for space missions. For future visits to Enceladus or Europa, a lander could cut a hole in the ice and then insert a compliant robot through the hole. This robot could then grow and change shape on the other side.
N. S. Usevitch, Z. M. Hammond, M. Schwager, A. M. Okamura, E. W. Hawkes, S. Follmer, An untethered isoperimetric soft robot. Sci. Robot. 4,
ve42.co/Hammond2020 - paper about the truss robot
ve42.co/Usevitch2020 - press release and video about the truss robot
Electronics-free pneumatic circuits for controlling soft-legged robots
Dylan Drotman1, Saurabh Jadhav, David Sharp, Christian Chan, Michael T. Tolley Sci. Robot. 6, eaay2627 (2021)
ve42.co/Drotman - paper about the turtle robot
Special thanks to Patreon supporters:
Jim Osmun, Tyson McDowell, Ludovic Robillard, jim buckmaster, Robert, fanime96, Marc Forand, Juan Benet, Ruslan Khroma, Robert Blum, Grace O'Maille KRON x Arc iOS, Richard Sundvall, Lee Redden, Vincent, Lyvann Ferrusca, Alfred Wallace, Arjun Chakroborty, Joar Wandborg, Clayton Greenwell, Pindex , Michael Krugman, Cy 'kkm' K'Nelson, Sam Lutfi, Ron Neal, Bryan Baker
Video supplied by Getty Images
Thanks to Zachary Hammond for showing me the soft truss robot
Filmed by Derek Muller
Edited and GFX by Trenton Oliver
Animation by Ivan Tello
Music by Jonny Hyman
Thumbnail by Ignat Berbeci, Dan Meyer

  • Will you still call a robot to something that doesn't integrate electronics?

    Mat BlazMat Blaz46 minutes ago
  • Is there a video of that tour/visit to Kiwi Co? I'm fascinated by their work and would love to see more from that teaser.

    Fernando ToledoFernando Toledo49 minutes ago
  • F...ng masks on your faces...?!?!?!?!??! REALLY?!?!?!?!?!

    TheTRUwinsTheTRUwinsHour ago
  • problem is we cant make a soft robot that is actually strong. so why dont we just build normal machines, that dont crush people?

    PowerDust015 lastnamePowerDust015 lastname2 hours ago
  • Hey Derek, how about the explanation of the " Center of the Universe " on Tulsa, Oklahoma ?? It's fascinatingly mysterious

    Monkey D. LuffyMonkey D. Luffy2 hours ago
  • kiełbasa ❤

    ThiSISAlivE DeatHThiSISAlivE DeatH3 hours ago
  • Do they work at the bottom of the sea

    Anupam Datta SarkarAnupam Datta Sarkar3 hours ago
  • Seems like they are pretty worthless because they have no inherent strength to complete tasks except perhaps to entertain children or to carry cameras on the meatal joints.

    NecromancerNecromancer3 hours ago
  • Hi, Derek. I want to watch your documentaries but don't know how to download it, can you help me?

    Techno manTechno man4 hours ago
  • Hey Derek, here's a video suggestion. How much does the 'Path of least resistance dictate your life?' Everything from putting a dirty plate into the sink less full to selecting the lane with the least amount of cars at a red light. Love the work you do! Thanks.

    cho202cho2024 hours ago
  • So what's its use, like under water is great but what will it do there?

    Tristan MöllerTristan Möller5 hours ago
  • dont waste your time making videos with masked people - they will be very ashamed once the depth of duping becomes obvious to all - thumbs down and unsub from me!

    usertogousertogo5 hours ago
  • the future is bendy

    Story of SharplyonStory of Sharplyon5 hours ago
  • Typical vacuum tire uses latex-based internal sealant to auto-seal leaks. Also, some vehicles use soft rubber to completely replace air inside tires. Silicone foam resin or something similar can be mixed when the robot deployed, and foam would expand to fill the tube structures. It will be far better than a mere backup pump.

    Max LawMax Law6 hours ago
    • concessions would have to be made in terms of robot maneuverabilty right? the foam is naturally more difficult to compress than air. i think it would be great as a back up system tho, if they could find a light yet strong and elastic enough foam for structural support in those emergency situations, without adding too much weight to the robot.

      Fayetal AttractionFayetal Attraction5 hours ago
  • I used to get V and mark rober mixed up, seems silly now but to me they used to be the same guy 😂

    Butters StotchButters Stotch6 hours ago
  • Derek: How does this robot even work? Zack: COMPLIANCE Derek: And what do- Zack: C O M P L I A N C E

    soinu foigsoinu foig6 hours ago
  • This has to be lamest robot I have seen in a long, long time...

    ScorieDivineScorieDivine6 hours ago
  • imagine you in a dark alley with nobody else and then this robot goes after you

    TheBlackVoidInSpace // Person PersonTheBlackVoidInSpace // Person Person7 hours ago
    • Why would I imagine that

      • SuShi •• SuShi •7 hours ago
  • I think I had a stroke trying to read the title

    Donut ManDonut Man7 hours ago
    • Cool

      soinu foigsoinu foig6 hours ago
  • The only thing that makes me sad is that my first language is not english and i cannot understand you in tough situations. Love your channel❤️❤️

    Elvin K SajuElvin K Saju7 hours ago
    • @Lord Midmight yeah. i do so when its available 😊

      Elvin K SajuElvin K Saju6 hours ago
    • Put the subtitles, is going to make it easier for you to understand

      Lord MidmightLord Midmight6 hours ago
  • And how are they better...

    хреновый свиньяхреновый свинья7 hours ago
  • *baymax intensefies*

    ApocryphonApocryphon7 hours ago
    • Some people like me black. Some very light. Some people like me bitter, others sweet. Congratulations!!!!!!! You've won a cup of coffee.

      CoffeeCoffee7 hours ago
  • its a sloth robot

    BlueSeaBlueSea7 hours ago
  • Zack hammond looks like James from the odd1sout

    Hudi StorchHudi Storch8 hours ago
  • Coz robots that bend, can be smashed 😛

    Kotresh GKotresh G8 hours ago
  • Lol that ice will be a LITTLE BIT thicker :)

    cubax599cubax5999 hours ago
  • "Heavy, expensive, and can be dangerous if not used correctly." Is now my new favorite description of a car... I mean robot.

    tleilaxu42tleilaxu429 hours ago
  • It's Baymax!

    shanemaneval16shanemaneval169 hours ago
  • Do you guys have a toy versión of your soft robots?

  • Good

    Promi AkterPromi Akter10 hours ago
  • Just use a long pool noodle 🤠. No compressed air bs.

    Khizar SaysKhizar Says10 hours ago
  • "I came up to Stanford to meet Zack Hammond and his soft robot." ... That's what she said

    Mateusz StawarskiMateusz Stawarski11 hours ago
  • Would be useful.. if there was a use or something it makes better. That solution needs a problem.

    AA11 hours ago
  • Cool

    Swirl AndTwirlSwirl AndTwirl11 hours ago
  • The sex toys that are gonna come out of this technology...

    Konnies EggKonnies Egg11 hours ago
  • I haven't heard the word "compliance" used so often in a video since I last watched Flight of the Navigator...

    Carl PaulsenCarl Paulsen11 hours ago
  • One thing came to mind... Baymax.

    21Units21Units12 hours ago
  • I'm very unimpressed. Other than a few space jobs, I can't see why he is so hyped about them. Rigid robots are the futur, they are not great right now, but once we manage to master their design, they will be much more useful. I'm thinking human shaped robots who can do basic chores which is already in good development, or androids that can do most jobs much further in the futur.

    Micheal DavisMicheal Davis12 hours ago
  • i saw a video where a guy tried to make a thrust vectoring gimble for an rc plane using compliant mechanics, and the problem he had was that the compliance necessary to make the mechanism work also made the mechanism entirely too flexible to handle the thrust it was supposed to be steering. you can say "oh these robots are better because they aren't strong enough to hurt you" but it's still pointless if it's also not strong enough to do anything useful

    Rob MckennieRob Mckennie12 hours ago
  • Kiełbasa is the best part of this robot ;D

    MTWODZUMTWODZU12 hours ago
  • "One of the things that i like to do is just to take the robot and beat it" YOU MONSTER

    Minato365Minato36513 hours ago
    • ""Robot""

      TachTach12 hours ago
  • alot of those toys kiwi co makes seem very familiar

    Genki GGenki G13 hours ago
  • The knowledgeable riverbed unpredictably fill because guide superficially tip after a plain cone. gabby, confused antarctica

    Ozil GzbsjOzil Gzbsj14 hours ago
  • This is def one of the weirdest things I've seen in awhile.

    The KingdomThe Kingdom15 hours ago
  • this is basically a giant robotic muscle

    Nickolas StJohnNickolas StJohn15 hours ago
  • Okay so NASA needs robots that change their volume, disassemble and reassemble... They're called Transformers. Just say it, we can all relate to that.

    DodiciDodici16 hours ago
    • @Dodici my brain always goes straight to the Autobots when I think of Transformers, don't know why

      Wendell BezerraWendell Bezerra4 hours ago
    • @Wendell Bezerra True, if it were an Autobot. Decepticons are another story, but you can always crossbreed with Honda Fits the best subcompact car of 2021!

      DodiciDodici5 hours ago
    • Still the least volume Transformers occupy is that of a car... unless you miniaturize them 🤔

      Wendell BezerraWendell Bezerra8 hours ago
  • This would be pretty cool in livestock Applications. Especially bovine.

    Justin BuserJustin Buser16 hours ago
  • Me: you deserve more subs People: memes memes memes

  • Hmm I'm wondering if some of this is "misinformation" and should be deleted?

    Futterman FarmsFutterman Farms17 hours ago
    • @BigBossBilly just hypothetical regarding this one. I had a BIG problem with the Gates vid. Thank you for your question.

      Futterman FarmsFutterman Farms3 hours ago
    • @Futterman Farms I still don't quite understand you. Do you actually have a problem with any particular content in this video, or are you making a hypothetical point against censorship?

      BigBossBillyBigBossBilly5 hours ago
    • @Ed Purcell I was referring to his last vid with Gates where he said he agreed with Gates that "misinformation" should be deleted and not allowed to be online. This from the guy who did a vid on how many research papers are wrong??? and who gets to decide what is not ok? We still have not seen a retraction or ever a comment to defend the position. So I was just asking, how about this vid. Should some of it not be allowed?

      Futterman FarmsFutterman Farms5 hours ago
    • For example?

      Ed PurcellEd Purcell13 hours ago
  • Baymax

    LightSourceLightSource17 hours ago
  • ok soft robot.., bend, can it squeze tight

    erwinsyah novaerwinsyah nova18 hours ago
    • Also no

      the unseen gamer tkthe unseen gamer tk13 hours ago
    • Why do you need to know

      the unseen gamer tkthe unseen gamer tk13 hours ago
  • If you wear a mask I don't watch

    the ugly truththe ugly truth18 hours ago
  • But can it go offroading?

    Swift KingSwift King18 hours ago
  • I have a doubt what is the speed of darkness?

    Rishabh GuptaRishabh Gupta18 hours ago
    • Same as light

      Carlos_A_MCarlos_A_M17 hours ago
    • I dunno dark

      MochaFurMochaFur18 hours ago
  • dorito tumbleweed

    chulofreakschulofreaks19 hours ago
    • R/iamveryrandom

      yummy foodsyummy foods8 hours ago
    • baymax

      caleb youngcaleb young11 hours ago
    • N'ow I want doritos!! Thanks!!😤

      Konan HonimKonan Honim12 hours ago
    • nice

      Goggle ManGoggle Man13 hours ago
    • Nice

      Qaz_YTQaz_YT13 hours ago
  • Sorry I just could not watch human robots wearing control devices on the face although it MAY have been interesting - if you survive the experimental nanobot infiltrating jab maybe you can make another without slave devices on?

    David RobertsonDavid Robertson19 hours ago
  • It always amazes me how the future end up giving us what we want, but always with a twist, we all dreaming with hard human like butler, but we'll probably end up with shape shifting sausages crawling around our houses, still pretty cool though.

    Héctor CossioHéctor Cossio19 hours ago
  • why dont you just give the information directly? i catch on to your hints buh you shouldnt be scared to teach the society uh mean like isnt tha the reason for your youtube channel?

    CxshedoutkCxshedoutk19 hours ago
  • Why Robots That Bend Are Boring

    andybaldmanandybaldman19 hours ago
  • This mam calls a lot of things robots. I feel like he doesn't fully understand what a robot is...

    Drag0nEYE 1510Drag0nEYE 151020 hours ago
    • Sure, the guy who is literally building machines that move and do things has no idea what a robot is. Totally.

      Luca MontaniLuca Montani19 hours ago
  • I'm Bender baby, please insert liquor. Bendy robots are better.

    nimay13nimay1320 hours ago
  • That's it, rubber terminators are almost here

    NDK0NDK020 hours ago
  • Because they can bend

    CenixCenix20 hours ago
  • I don't really know how you would use a soft robot like that but it is very cool and I can see that it needs to be developed as something is going to come from it. Like Spot from Boston Dynamics was developed and there is some very cool things coming from that now. I love seeing how the construction industry in particular is using Spot.

    Michael WylieMichael Wylie21 hour ago
  • Kiełbasa XDDD

    СкуљскиСкуљски21 hour ago
  • "So I came up to Standford to meet Zach Hammond and his soft robot." Me: *lowers volume*

    Frank EinsteinFrank Einstein21 hour ago
  • these "soft" robots will be less lethal when the uprising happens

    FrogboyFrogboy21 hour ago
  • So like bone and muscle

    J HJ H21 hour ago
  • I have a question... if the universe is expanding do you think it will continue endlessly until all the matter in the universe dies out or will it retract or maybe something else.

    Danny DunwellDanny Dunwell21 hour ago
  • No doubt !

    turbo Flackoturbo Flacko21 hour ago
  • So does that mean i'm a few years closer to being able to have a robot girlfriend?

    ׁׁ21 hour ago
  • soft robots remind me of drunk uncles.

    Spanky HarlandSpanky Harland22 hours ago
  • No thank you some of these would be terrifying this is how skynet started

    Big Phat SmokeBig Phat Smoke22 hours ago
  • aww the title made me think they build a "Bender"

    DaphoesDaphoes22 hours ago
  • Yes, but can a robot ever truly fart?

    MaxxMaxx23 hours ago
    • Pump it full of methane and put a buthole then absolutely

      Danny DunwellDanny Dunwell21 hour ago
  • The living title markedly weigh because tenor macropharmacologically brush against a cagey currency. lamentable, productive screwdriver

    Antonio ManaserianAntonio Manaserian23 hours ago
  • Sausages with air in it in space. Yeah.

    Business starten & online Geld verdienen!Business starten & online Geld verdienen!23 hours ago
  • This only makes sense on the nano scale.

    russellrussell23 hours ago
    • my first thought...

      Business starten & online Geld verdienen!Business starten & online Geld verdienen!23 hours ago
  • "Is the biggest risk if it pops?" 😂

    russellrussell23 hours ago
  • god i hate imperial so much

    PepbobPepbobDay ago
  • As a member of a robotics team, this video is so cool! It would be awesome if FIRST did a compliant robot competition! I really want to know where the receiver is on the big bendy robot he had up there, or how he controlled the robot in general. Btw, I am a huge fan of this channel! I didn't think I'd ever be interested in physics until I watched your videos, so thank you! (:

    Madison OMadison ODay ago
  • wait, they named robots after sausages "Polish" and "Kiełbasa"? those are the same thing lmfao

    Derek SchinkeDerek SchinkeDay ago
  • This is one of those things that gets more and more awesome the more you look at it. I thought 'o, thing tips over, cool, seen that before' but it's soooooo much more than that. After 6 minutes I was completely sold

    DeldarelDeldarelDay ago
  • Pretty sure that this "compliant" Octahedron could strangle me, if it really wanted to

    DM BlackgvardDM BlackgvardDay ago
  • I think the 'why' in the title should be 'when' because 'why' implies, in this instance, they're *always* better which you contradict in the video by saying the not bending variety is more accurate. Or the 'are', which makes the statement sound as if it's true in any situation, could be changed in something like 'can be'.

    veroagheveroagheDay ago
  • Why is everyone wearing a mask?

    Expedient TechnologyExpedient TechnologyDay ago
    • Good question man

      The TheThe TheDay ago
    • Did you forget the ongoing pandemic in the US?

      Tobi JacksonTobi JacksonDay ago
    • There was a pandemic in 2020-2022.

      AlpaliAlpaliDay ago
  • this, this is why im distracted from my homework

    ShatteredShadowShatteredShadowDay ago
  • Wow Step-Robot u are really flexible.

    Manpreet lakhanpalManpreet lakhanpalDay ago
  • Kiełbasa :)

    Tomasz GaseckiTomasz GaseckiDay ago
  • Can we have it fall and me be inside it? Dude, sick.

    Christian OlssonChristian OlssonDay ago
  • Can't they use the same type of structure/principle that nasa used for it's airless tires? But then it would limit how much its size could reduce, because of the stress limit before permanently bending the metal Could also try doing the same, and using "memory metal"... But then the robot would need a way to keep re-heating it's own "metal fiber tubes" and that would create a power issue

    BonesBonesDay ago
  • Bend

    Jacobskefoulington GoldJacobskefoulington GoldDay ago
  • I never understand what he says but I still enjoy watching him

    SunkenpineSunkenpineDay ago
  • Next Video - "Why Girls That Bend Are Better"

    Anantim PatilAnantim PatilDay ago
  • is this basically the blob from the movie blob?

    Ed L.Ed L.Day ago
  • suddenly gay

    Nico RONico RODay ago
  • Bender always knew it.

    radastirradastirDay ago
  • Please Make a video on golden ratio *Phi*!!!!!

    unknown playerunknown playerDay ago
  • This video was SO MUCH more enjoyable than the over-produced USworlds Originals one. Thanks for the great content!

    notn0tnotn0tDay ago
  • ew he uses inches on matlab? i know ues USian but hes a scientist

    William Pereira GomesWilliam Pereira GomesDay ago