Tesla is developing a bipedal humanoid robot called Optimus that will eventually be able to perform a wide range of tasks. According to Elon Musk, the prototype could be completed by the end of 2022, and version 1 could go into production in 2023.
In August 2021, at AI Day, Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled a humanoid robot, saying that it would be a general-purpose machine that would perform a wide range of tasks. Ultimately, the robot, named Optimus, will be able to do everything that people do not want to do.
On April 7, during the Giga Texas launch event, Musk said that Tesla could start production of the first version of the robot in 2023. “We have a shot of being in production for version one of Optimus hopefully next year,” he said.
During the 2021 Earnings Call, Tesla Musk tried to explain the importance of the company's new development. He said that in terms of the priority of products, the humanoid robot is the most important product development that Tesla is doing this year. In addition, Musk explained that Optimus has the potential to become more significant than the vehicle business over time.
“So, in terms of priority of products, I think actually the most important product development we're doing this year is actually the Optimus humanoid robot. This, I think, has the potential to be more significant than the vehicle business over time.”
The head of the company also explained the true importance of the new development. According to him, Tesla Bot will become a universal replacement for human labor, since labor is the basis of any economy. The robot will also alleviate the labor shortage due to the significant decline in the birth rate, which will create a problem in the future. In December 2021, at the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) board summit, Musk said:
“[Tesla Bot] has the potential to be a generalized substitute for human labor over time. The foundation of the economy is labor. Capital equipment is essentially distilled labor...The fundamental constraint is labor. There are not enough people. I can’t emphasize this enough. There are not enough people. I think one of the biggest risks for civilizations is the low birthrate and the rapidly declining birthrate.”
The head of Tesla said that initially, the Tesla bot will likely be used at the company's own facilities. “The first use of the Tesla Bots, Optimus, the Optimus name seems to be sticking at least internally, Optimus Subprime. Like if we can't find a use for it, then we shouldn't expect that others would. So, the first use of the Optimus robots would be, at Tesla, like moving parts around the factory or something like that,” he said.
Musk believes that AI is a potential threat to humanity. With this in mind, the head of Tesla is one of the strictest observers who will control the process of its creation. At the same time, all of us will also be watching this process to make sure it is safe. “As you see Optimus develop, everyone’s going to make sure it’s safe,” Musk said. “No Terminator stuff or that kind of thing.”
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About the Author
Eva Fox joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover breaking news as an automotive journalist. The main topics that she covers are clean energy and electric vehicles. As a journalist, Eva is specialized in Tesla and topics related to the work and development of the company.