“There’s still a lot of work to do to improve Optimus and prove its worth,” Musk stressed at Artificial Intelligence Day in Palo Alto, California. Musk said existing humanoid robots “lack brains.” and the ability to solve problems independently. In contrast, Optimus Prime will be an “extremely capable robot,” he said, and Tesla aims to produce millions of these robots. The robot is expected to cost less than $20,000, he said.
Tesla said it had developed a robot prototype in February. At the event site, the prototype of Optimus Prime walked to the front of the stage and waved to the crowd. The skeleton of this prototype robot is exposed, with wires and hardware clearly visible. Tesla also played a video showing the robot prototype completing simple tasks like watering plants, carrying boxes and lifting metal poles on a workshop at Tesla’s California factory. “This is the first time a robot has walked on stage tonight without a tether,” Musk said. “We don’t want it to fall and eat shit yet.”
Both Musk and Tesla employees acknowledge that there is still a lot of work to be done to achieve the goal of mass-producing low-cost machines that will replace human jobs.
Other automakers, including Toyota and Honda, have previously developed prototypes of humanoid robots capable of complex tasks like playing basketball. Likewise, production robots from ABB and others are already the backbone of the automotive industry.
But Tesla is the only company committed to introducing robots to the general public. Tesla staff also demonstrated the newly designed new-generation Tesla robot at the event, but unlike the prototype that walked on the stage by itself, this robot was pushed onto the stage by three people. Tesla said that the robot will use components designed by Tesla, including a 2.3-kilowatt-hour battery pack mounted on the robot’s torso, a chip system, and motors that drive the movement of the robot’s limbs. The design weight of the entire robot is 73 kg.
“It’s not quite ready to walk. But I think it will be walking in a few weeks,” Musk said. He wants the robot to be mass-produced, cost less than $20,000, and have all the free movement of its fingers so it can operate tools.
Musk said that the “AI Day” event was held to recruit more employees for the company, and the engineers on the stage explained the needs of participating technicians. Tesla engineers detailed Tesla’s process of designing the robot’s hand and used Tesla-developed crash simulator technology to test features such as how to avoid injury when the robot’s face is on the ground.
Musk has previously spoken about the risks of artificial intelligence, saying that the massive rollout of robots has the potential to “change civilization” and create “a future of abundance, a future without poverty. People back then…in terms of products and services. , you can get whatever you want.” But he said Tesla shareholders have an important role to play in overseeing the company’s behavior.
“If I’m crazy, you can fire me,” Musk said. “This is very important.”
Musk has previously emphasized that the company can ensure the safety of its robots. “Obviously we’re making the parts needed for a practical humanoid robot, so I thought we should probably make it,” he said last year. “If we don’t do it, others will do it…I think we should do it and make sure it’s safe.”
Many investors and financial analysts are skeptical that Tesla can eventually build such a robot, and they recommend focusing on Tesla’s core businesses, such as electric vehicles.
The presentation at AI Day on Friday showed how Musk wants to solve one of the toughest problems in robotics and artificial intelligence: how to build a machine that can replace humans.
Companies including Amazon and Google have been working on developing robots that move autonomously for years, but things like picking up or handling items with robotic hands are no easy feat, and the idea of robots replacing human workers is far from reality.
Tesla’s robots demonstrate the company’s long-term strategy to build an automated future. In such a future, computer algorithms participate in human-like decision-making and can enrich their own work experience and theoretical knowledge.
As labor shortages leave many manufacturing jobs vacant, companies are imagining new ways to automate jobs previously performed by humans. Despite its fair share of controversies, if a company cracks the way to make a humanoid robot, it would be a breakthrough advance.
Gene Munster, managing partner at investment firm Loup Ventures, wrote in an analysis that if the Tesla Optimus robot becomes a reality, it could initially affect manufacturing jobs, which make up about 10 percent of the U.S. workforce. , worth up to $500 billion a year.
“The global manual labor market is many times larger than the U.S. manufacturing labor market,” he added.
Still, Musk has always over-promised, and announced products are pushed back and forth. In 2019, Tesla announced the launch of the Cyber electric pickup, and Musk called the windows “unbreakable”, only to be smashed during the demonstration. Tesla has yet to start delivering the Cyber electric pickup. On Thursday, Musk said on Twitter that the pickup will be “waterproof enough to be temporarily used as a boat.”
Tesla also discussed its long-delayed self-driving technology at the event. Engineers developing self-driving software describe how they train the software to make decisions, such as when to merge into traffic and how to speed up the computer’s processing.
In May, Musk said that if Tesla can’t achieve full self-driving capabilities, the company’s future “basically zero value.” But Tesla’s self-driving technology faces mounting regulatory investigations and technical hurdles.
Musk has said he expects Tesla to achieve full self-driving this year and mass-produce robotaxis without steering wheels and pedals by 2024.
At Autopilot Day in 2019, Musk promised to have 1 million robotaxis on the road by 2020, but no such vehicles have been delivered so far.