Tesla created a functional bi-pedal robot prototype in just one year and unveiled it at AI Day. The expected cost of Optimus is around $20,000 and could be on sale in as little as four years.
At AI Day #1, held in August 2021, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that the company intends to start manufacturing robots. An actor dressed in a tight suit resembling a robot entered the stage and danced a funny dance, amusing the audience. This caused a wave of skepticism among those, who did not believe that Tesla would be able to present something usable in the coming years.
During Cyber Rodeo—the Giga Texas launch party held in April 2022—Musk said the Optimus prototype could be completed by the end of 2022, with the first version in production in 2023. These were very bold assumptions, receiving criticism from both laymen as well as specialists in the field. Obviously, Tesla is considered by many as a car company, so all other directions in which it develops (by leaps and bounds, by the way) are often simply not taken into account.
When Musk pushed back AI Day by one month to unveil the Optimus prototype, it was also met with skepticism and disbelief. However, a little over a year after it was first mentioned, Musk did indeed unveil a working prototype of a bi-pedal robot, surprising skeptics. Tesla has once again proved that it has great potential and is able to do what others consider impossible to do, at least in such a short time.
The company unveiled its Optimus robot at Tesla AI Day 2022 in California, on September 30. The event featured two different prototypes. While one of them is already capable of walking and moving its arms and hands on its own, the second prototype should get closer to the planned final version soon. “It wasn't quite ready to walk, but I think it'll walk in a few weeks,” Musk said. The finished prototype walked around the stage and even made some dance moves, impressing the public with their smoothness. It could turn and bend at the waist. The full robot body has more than 28 degrees of freedom, and each hand has 11, Tesla said.
The Optimus prototype currently weighs around 161 pounds (73 kilograms). It uses a variant of the same computing hardware used in FSD-equipped Tesla vehicles. In addition, the robot is controlled by the same software as those installed in the company's cars. In fact, Optimus learns in real conditions by feeling out its surroundings. Its battery pack has a capacity of 2.3 kilowatt-hours, which should be enough for an entire day's work, according to a company engineer. Optimus consumes about 100 watts of power while sitting and 500 watts when walking fast.
Ultimately, Tesla will produce millions of Tesla bots and sell them for around $20,000 each. The first robots may go on sale in 2027. They will be used by Tesla first. This will allow the company to test the product with the highest quality and make changes to it, if necessary.
“The number of situations where Optimus is useful will grow exponentially,” Musk said. “Really really fast.”
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