Elon Musk had made everyone skeptical last year by announcing that Tesla would turn to robotics. But last week, he revealed the latest prototype of Tesla Optimus, a humanoid robot being developed by the company. It was on the stage at a Silicon Valley event of an annual Tesla AI Day presentation that Tesla bot made its appearance by being wheeled on the stage, waving to the audience and raising its knees. Musk says Optimus is still a work-in-progress but could be made commercially available in a few years from now.
Tesla engineers have hinted that the mass-market robots will be tested by working jobs in Tesla’s car factories. It took around six months to build the first version of Tesla Optimus, and the rest of the time was spent in upgrading hardware and software. The company now wants to focus on the true human form it has promised.
What can Tesla Optimus do?
Tesla will produce these humanoid robots in mass numbers at a cost not exceeding $20,000 to make them available in the market in three to five years. The video revealed by Tesla shows Optimus performing simple tasks such as carrying boxes, watering plants and lifting metal bars. Musk says that the company envisions a future of abundance and a fundamental transformation of civilization with this revolutionary technology.
While investors and financial analysts advise Tesla to focus instead on projects closer to the company’s core business of electric cars, Musk says he wants to solve one of the biggest problems that AI faces in making a machine that can replace a human. Musk, who has previously said that AI will be a threat to humanity, now wants to ensure a safe transition toward robots doing the work to benefit mankind. It is notable that he mentioned that Tesla will be ready to take orders from these robots in five years. The CEO said that they are building safeguards, including a stop button that could not be tampered with to avoid going down the ‘Terminator’ path referring to the blockbuster film.
Technical specifications of Optimus
What is going on with the development of Optimus is much more interesting as the Autopilot uses the same self-driving computer in Tesla’s electric cars. It is clearly unsurprising that the company will be using its own components for its friend. A 2.3 kWh capacity battery will be placed in the center of its torso. This will enable the robot to do a day full of work without interruptions. Sitting down, it will consume 100W of power, while briskly walking will hike that up to 500W.
What Tesla envisions with Optimus
Elon Musk says that the reason for Tesla developing this humanoid robot is to liberate a human workforce in the most optimal and safest way possible. He predicts that replacing human workers with Optimus may result in two orders of magnitude potential improvement in economic output. Musk mentions that it is a good thing that Tesla is controlled by the public, so that he can be fired whenever he goes crazy. Haha! Being a publicly traded company it is up to the shareholders to decide whether this long-term result is something that people actually want.
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Also check: Toyota’s basketball playing robot!