Musk shows off Tesla's humanoid robot, but warns it's not ready yet

Musk shows off Tesla’s humanoid robot, but warns it’s not ready yet

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept 30 (Reuters) – Tesla (TSLA.O) CEO Elon Musk showed off a prototype humanoid robot ‘Optimus’ on Friday, predicting the electric vehicle maker would be able to produce millions of them and sell them for less than $20,000. – less than a third of the price of a Y model.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done to refine Optimus and prove it,” Musk said at the electric vehicle maker’s “AI Day” event held at a Tesla office in Palo Alto, Calif., where the robot was presented.

A prototype model that Tesla says was developed in February was released to greet the crowds on Friday, and Tesla showed video of it performing simple tasks, such as watering plants, carrying boxes and lifting metal bars at a company production station in California. plant.

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The team deployed the more streamlined current-gen bot on a cart, and Musk said he hopes it will soon be able to walk on its own.

He said existing humanoid robots “lack a brain” – and the ability to solve problems on their own. By contrast, he said, Optimus would be an “extremely capable robot” that Tesla would aim to produce in the millions. He said he expected it to cost less than $20,000.

Representatives for Musk and Tesla have acknowledged that there is a lot of work to be done to achieve the goal of a mass-produced, low-cost robot using Tesla-designed technology that would be able to replace humans in the world. work.

Other automakers, including Toyota Motor (7203.T) and Honda Motor (7267.T), have developed prototype humanoid robots capable of doing complicated things like shooting a basketball, and the production robots of ‘ABB and others are a mainstay of automotive manufacturing.

But Tesla is the only one pushing the market opportunity for a consumer robot that could also be used in factory work.

A next-generation Tesla bot, which was launched on stage by staff, will use Tesla-designed components, including a 2.3 kWh battery carried in its torso, a chip system and actuators to train its limbs. The robot is designed to weigh 73 kg.

“It wasn’t quite ready to go. But I think it will work in a few weeks,” Musk said.

Musk described the event as intended to recruit workers, and the engineers on stage were aimed at a technical audience. They detailed the process by which Tesla designed robot hands and used crash simulation technology to test the robot’s ability to land on its face without breaking.

Musk, who has previously spoken about the risks of artificial intelligence, said the massive deployment of robots has the potential to “transform civilization” and create “a future of abundance, a future without poverty.” But he said he thought it was important for Tesla shareholders to play a role in reviewing the company’s efforts.

“If I go crazy, you can fire me,” Musk said. “It is important.”

Many reactions on Twitter have been positive, focusing on the speed of Tesla’s development efforts since August last year, when Tesla announced its project with a stunt in which a person in a white suit simulated a humanoid robot.

Henri Ben Amor, professor of robotics at Arizona State University, said Musk’s price target of $20,000 was a “good guess” since current costs are around $100,000 for humanoid robots. .

“There is a certain mismatch between the type of ambition and what they presented,” he said. “As far as dexterity speed, ability to walk steadily, etc., there is still a lot of work to be done.”

Aaron Johnson, a mechanical engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University, also said the need for the robot was questionable.

“What’s really impressive is that they got to this level so quickly. What’s still a little murky is what exactly is the use case for them to make millions,” Johnson said.

Tesla also discussed its long-delayed self-driving technology at the event. Engineers working on the self-driving software described how they trained the software to choose actions, such as when to merge into traffic, and how they sped up the computer decision-making process.

In May, Musk said the world’s most valuable automaker “would be worth practically zero” if it didn’t achieve full self-driving capability, and faced mounting regulatory investigations, as well as to technological barriers.

Musk said he expects Tesla to achieve fully autonomous driving this year and mass-produce a robotaxi without a steering wheel or pedal by 2024.

At an “Autonomy” event in 2019, Musk promised 1 million robotaxis by 2020 but has yet to deliver such a car.

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Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Written by Muralikumar Anantharaman; Editing by Peter Henderson and Daniel Wallis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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