Tesla Bot, also known as Optimus
is a conceptual general purpose robotic humanoid planned by Tesla, Inc., unveiled at the company’s AI Day event on August 19, 2021. CEO Elon Musk claimed during the event that Tesla would build a prototype by 2022
Tesla Bot will measure 5’8″ (173 cm) tall and weigh 125lbs (57 kg). According to the presentation made during the AI Day event, a Tesla Bot will be “controlled by the same AI system Tesla is developing for the ADAS system used in its cars” and have a carrying capacity of 45 lb (20 kg).
Proposed tasks for the product are ones that are “dangerous, repetitive and boring”, such as providing manufacturing assistance.
Soon after the event, many publications reacted with skepticism about the proposed product.
Bloomberg News claimed that such a product constituted “mission creep” and stood outside “the company’s clean-energy initiatives.
The Verge noted that “Tesla’s history is littered with fanciful ideas that never panned out… it’s anyone’s guess as to whether a working Tesla Bot will ever see the light of day” and, in an editorial, described the Tesla Bot reveal as a “bizarre and brilliant bit of tomfoolery”.
The Washington Post similarly argued that “Tesla has a history of exaggerating timelines and overpromising at its product unveilings and investor presentations.
Tesla announced that it is actually going to make a humanoid robot, called Tesla Bot, and it will be able to grab your groceries for you and perform other menial tasks.
No, it’s not a joke.
At its “AI Day” today, Tesla released many details about its progress to develop AI technology to power its self-driving system.
But as we expected, there was a “one more thing” moment, and it was robots.
CEO Elon Musk announced that Tesla plans to build a humanoid robot called Tesla Bot.
Musk described Tesla as already being the biggest robotic company in the world, considering the capabilities of its vehicles to see and understand the world around them and act on that information.
The CEO believes that it makes sense for Tesla to use their significant advancements in computer vision, but instead of deploying in a robot on four wheels, the company will do it in a humanoid robot.
Musk said that Tesla Bot will be geared toward doing “repetitive and boring tasks.”
Here are the basic specs for the robot as described by Tesla during the presentation:
It’s going to share a lot of the technology found in Tesla vehicles today, including the FSD computer that will receive data from a very similar suite of sensors.
Tesla released this slide regarding the AI hardware in the Tesla Bot:
Using a similar suite of AI hardware will enable Tesla to leverage the development that it is already doing in the process of delivering a full self-driving car.
The main new sector of technology for Tesla is going to be the humanoid format, which Tesla released only a few details about:
On that front, we previously reported that Tesla has been working with famed roboticist Dennis Hong, who specializes in humanoid robots.
While Musk didn’t go into many details about the overall capabilities of the Tesla Bot and exactly what tasks it will be able to do, he hinted that the ultimate goal is for the robot to eventually be able to replace most “dangerous, repetitive, and boring tasks.”
He specifically referenced sending the Tesla Bot out to go get your groceries at the store as an example.
But the CEO said that they are making the robot because they already making almost all of the technology to create it, and if “Tesla doesn’t do it, someone else will,” and they want to do it safely.
The long-term vision is to replace most labor, and Musk reiterated his support for universal income, which would be required if the Tesla Bot has the impact that Musk is expecting.
The CEO says that the company plans to have a prototype ready for “sometime next year.”
Elon Musk: Tesla Bot could develop a unique personality and become a companion
Elon Musk says that he is considering Tesla Bot becoming more than just a humanoid robot to perform useful tasks but to have it potentially develop a unique personality and be a companion.
He says Tesla Bot could make an “incredible buddy like C3PO or R2D2.”
Earlier this year, Musk announced plans for Tesla Bot, a humanoid robot equipped with artificial intelligence aimed at completing general repetitive tasks.
At first, it sounded like another one of Musk’s jokes, but as we previously reported, it is a real project, and Tesla already started hiring for it.
Musk said that Tesla would build the robot to do useful work, and he even suggested that it could help solve the labor shortage.
On the Lex Fridman podcast, Musk was asked if he considered a potential companionship role for the Tesla Bot either as an assistant or even a friend.
I think the possibilities are endless. It’s not quite in Tesla’s primary mission directive of accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable energy, but it’s an extremely useful thing for the world to make a humanoid robot that is capable of interacting with the world and helping in many different ways.
The CEO reiterated that Tesla will focus on making the robot do “repetitive and boring work,” especially tasks that can lead to repetitive stress injury, but he did say that it could make “a very good companion”:
It could develop a personality over time that is unique. It’s not like all the robots are the same. That personality could evolve to match the owner, or whatever you want to call it.
Fridman, a scientist who specializes in human-robot interaction, suggested that there’s a “huge opportunity” to reduce loneliness with such an application of the Tesla Bot.
Here’s the full interview:
During the interview, Musk didn’t want to offer a clear timeline on when Tesla could make the robot available, but he did say that he expects Tesla to have “a decent prototype toward the end of next year.”
Musk: Tesla Bot Most Important Product Being Developed In 2022
CEO believes the Optimus humanoid robot “has the potential to be more significant than the vehicle business over time.”
When Tesla first announced its humanoid robot in August 2021, some people took it as a joke, especially since it was previewed by a dancing human being dressed to resemble the Tesla Bot.
Bizarre introduction aside, Elon Musk was pretty serious about the robot, saying that a prototype would be built in 2022. He also said the Bot would be designed for dangerous, repetitive, or boring work that people don’t like to do.
The robot dubbed Optimus was later teased in a Tesla China video about its new R&D center in Shanghai, hinting that the team there is working on developing the robot. Then in December, Musk said at Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit that the robot could help solve labor shortage.
All these things suggest Tesla is very serious about the project, but if you still have any doubts, Elon Musk’s latest statements about the Tesla Bot will dispel them.
Gallery: Tesla Bot Previewed At Tesla AI Day
During the 2021 Financial Results and Q&A Webcast event on January 26, the Tesla CEO said the humanoid robot is the company’s most important product in development.
Internally dubbed Optimus (or Optimus Sub-Prime as Elon jokingly referred to it during the call), the humanoid robot will see “a lot of engineering and tooling” work done this year. Furthermore, Musk believes the humanoid robot has the potential to be more significant than the vehicle business over time.
“So, in terms of priority of products, I think the most important product development we’re doing this year is actually the Optimus humanoid robot. This, I think has the potential to be more significant than the vehicle business over time.
If you think about the economy, it is— the foundation of the economy is labor. Capital equipment is distilled labor. So, what happens if you don’t actually have a labor shortage? I’m not sure what an economy even means at that point. That’s what Optimus is about. So, very important.”
Musk has said before that the first job for Optimus would most likely be at Tesla factories. Speaking of jobs, Tesla started recruiting engineers and technicians for the humanoid robot project shortly after the Bot’s unveiling in August 2021, with the company posting additional job openings in November.
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