Tesla AI Day event’s highlight (at least visually) was without a doubt Elon Musk’s announcement that a Tesla Bot prototype is coming in 2022.
It was the last announcement in the three hour-long presentation, and its beginning was quite bizarre as an actual human being pretending to be a humanoid robot walked on stage and started making robot moves and dance routines.
Things got pretty serious after that, though, when Musk took the mic and announced that a Tesla Bot (codenamed Optimus) will be real, and a prototype will come “sometime next year” looking like the mockup shown on stage.
Starting with the motivation behind such a complex project, Musk said that Tesla is arguably the world’s biggest robotics company, seeing as its cars are like “semi-sentient robots on wheels.”
Because of that, Tesla CEO said it makes sense to put the tech powering the company’s semi-autonomous cars, such as the Full Self-Driving computer, sensors, batteries, actuators, and so on to work on a humanoid robot.
The Tesla Bot will be designed for dangerous, repetitive, or boring work that people don't like to do. As Musk says, physical work will be a choice in the future thanks to humanoid robots. The executive also said he’s a fan of the universal basic income but added that we’ll have to wait until robots are capable of taking over our menial tasks for that to happen.
Musk then went on to show several slides of the Tesla Bot (not to be confused with the Teslabot virtual assistant), revealing details like the 5’8” (1.73 meter) height, 125 lbs (57 kg) weight, and 5 mph (8 km/h) top speed. We also learned that the bot is intended to be “friendly,” but just in case things go south, Tesla has designed it to be slow and not that powerful.
“We’re setting such that it is, at a mechanical level, at a physical level, you can run away from it and most likely overpower it. Hopefully, that doesn’t ever happen, but you never know.”
Made of lightweight materials, the Tesla Bot will feature a screen on its “face” to display useful information, human-level hands, and 40 mechanical actuators (12 in the arms, 12 in the hands, 12 in the legs, 2 in the torso, and 2 in the neck). It will also have 2 axis feet for balancing and force feedback sensing.
More importantly, the Tesla Bot will feature eight Autopilot cameras, an FSD computer, FSD hardware, multi-cam video neural networks, neural net planning, auto-labeling, simulation and tools, and dojo training. All that mean that it will be able to navigate through the world without having to be explicitly trained, i.e. without explicit line-by-line instructions.
As a result, Musk says a human could issue a command like "please pick up that bolt and attach it to the car with that wrench" or "please go to the store and bring me the following groceries,” and the Bot will be able to do just that.