On Friday, Tesla revealed a prototype for a humanoid robot that could become a future product.
The robot, dubbed Optimus by Tesla, walked stiffly on stage at Tesla’s AI Day, slowly waved at the audience, and gestured with its hands for about a minute. Musk revealed that this was the first time the robot operated without a tether. It is common for robotics developers to use tethers to support robots since they cannot walk without falling and damaging themselves.
Optimus appears to be significantly less capable than robots from competitors like Hyundai-owned Boston Dynamics. Robots from Boston Dynamics have been seen performing backflips and sophisticated dance routines without tethers.
Musk told the audience that the robot is capable of much more than he showed them. “We just didn’t want it to fall.”
A video showed Tesla’s robot carrying boxes and watering plants with a watering can.
Musk claimed that if the robot was produced in mass quantities, it would “probably” cost less than $20,000. With Optimus, Tesla claims that it will be able to navigate independently by utilizing technology developed from its driver-assistance system, “Full Self Driving,” as well as saving money by learning about manufacturing from its automotive division. Currently, Tesla’s “Full Self Driving” requires a human to be alert, attentive, and ready to take over at any time.
Tesla has a history of setting aggressive price targets but failing to meet them. While the Tesla Model 3 was long promised as a $35,000 vehicle, it was only available for purchase very briefly at that price, and not directly on its website. Tesla’s most affordable Model 3 costs $46,990. On Tesla’s website, the Cybertruck was originally listed at $39,990 when it was revealed in 2019, but the price has since been removed.
The Tesla AI Day serves largely as a recruiting event to recruit talented employees.
According to Musk, the robot has the potential to transform civilization. It was significantly ahead of what Tesla revealed a year ago, when a person jumped on stage in a robot suit and danced.
Before the robot walked on stage, Musk said, “Last year, it was just a man in a robotic suit.” “We’ve come a long way since then. The robot will be a great deal more impressive than that.”
Tesla is not the first automaker to develop humanoid robots. For nearly 20 years, Honda worked alongside Hyundai’s Boston Dynamics on robots dubbed “Asimo”. The final version of Asimo was a child-sized humanoid robot capable of untethered walking, running, stair climbing and descending, and manipulating objects.
For more on this story, please consider these sources:
- Elon Musk reveals a humanoid robot at Tesla AI Day 2022 The Verge
- Tesla debuts an actual, mechanical prototype of its Optimus robot Engadget
- Tesla robot slowly walks on stage at AI Day CNN
- Tesla CEO Elon Musk showcases humanoid robot at event Yahoo Finance
- Tesla expected to show humanoid robot Optimus demo on Friday night at AI Day 2022 CNBC