Tesla continues to build the future by developing and releasing the technology to do so. The bipedal robot Optimus will ultimately be more valuable than the automotive business and Full Self-Driving (FSD), Elon Musk once again stressed.
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. 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, 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 that 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.”
Given the importance that Optimus carries, it is clear that it will fundamentally change the ordinary life of mankind and will be a huge breakthrough. However, people have not yet realized this, which was noticed by Musk. “And then there's, of course, Optimus, which I was surprised that people did not realize the magnitude of the Optimus robot program,” he said during the Q1 2022 Earnings Call.
Musk once again reiterated that in the coming years, Optimus will show its true importance. He is convinced that the Optimus program will ultimately be worth more than the company's car business and FSD.
“The importance of Optimus will become apparent in the coming years. Those who are insightful or listen carefully will understand that Optimus will ultimately be worth more than the car business, worth more than FSD.”
The humanoid robot will be 5 feet 8 inches (1.73 meters) tall, weigh 125 pounds (57 kg) and have a top speed of 5 mph (8 km/h). The company is developing a friendly robot, but knowing Musk's fears about their possible superiority over humans, Tesla is playing it extra safe. Tesla Bot will be specially designed to be slow and not too powerful, so that if something does go wrong, a human could still run away from it or overpower it. “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,” Musk said.
The Tesla Bot will be made from lightweight materials and has the agility of a human thanks to 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. It will have a screen on the head to display useful information. Tesla Bot will be equipped with 8 Autopilot cameras, FSD hardware, multi-cam video neural networks, neural network planning, auto-labeling, simulation and tools, and Dojo training. This means that it will be able to move independently in the environment without programming specific routes. Ultimately, Tesla Bot will have to carry out various commands given to it by a person, from simple requests to more cumbersome tasks, to going to the store for the groceries, for example.
© 2022, Eva Fox | Tesmanian. All rights reserved.
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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.