Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled a prototype humanoid robot that he says uses the company’s AI software, as well as the sensors that power its advanced driver assistance functions. At the start of Tesla’s 2022 AI Day presentation, Musk acknowledged that they had “a man in a suit” last year, but today promised something much more impressive.

According to Musk, it can do more than what’s shown, but “the first time it ran without a chain was on stage tonight.” Musk said they are aiming for a price of “probably less than $20,000.”

Tesla “Optimus” robot on AI Day 2022
Image: Tesla

The back doors of the stage opened to reveal a deconstructed Optimus walking forward and doing a “raise the roof” dance move. Musk would admit after the move that they wanted to keep it safe and not make too many moves on stage and “drop it flat on his face”.

After that, the company showed a few video clips of the robot doing other tasks, such as picking up boxes. Then the Tesla team released another prototype whose body is fully assembled but not fully functional. Then it was revealed that the first robot presented had been developed in just the past six months.

It includes a 2.3 kWh battery pack, runs on a Tesla SoC, and has Wi-Fi and LTE connectivity.

Slide from Tesla AI day presentation showing parts of the Optimus robot.

Tesla Optimus robot failure of CPU, battery pack, actuators and hands.
Image: Tesla

“It will be a fundamental transformation for civilization as we know it,” Musk said. He continues to say that Optimus has the potential of “two orders of magnitude” of potential improvement in economic output.

Musk first announced the “Tesla Bot” on last year’s AI Day, promising it would be “friendly” and potentially revolutionize the company’s assembly line and manufacturing operations.

Musk had previously warned his fans not to expect the prototype to look like the glossy black-and-white rendering first shown at last year’s event. But there’s no shortage of hype, with Musk calling the robot “the most important product development we’re doing this year” and predicting it will “be more important than the vehicle industry over time.”

Future uses could be cooking, gardening, or even “catgirl” sex partnersMusk said, while also claiming production could begin as early as next year.

In the days leading up to AI Day, robotics experts warned against over-emphasizing Musk’s claims. They’ve noted that other companies are much further along in their development of robots that can walk, run, and even jump — but none claim to replace human labor.

Tesla’s history is littered with fanciful ideas that never materialized — like a solar powered supercharger network, change batteryor snake style robotic chargers — so it’s anyone’s guess whether a production-ready Tesla Bot will ever see the light of day. But the company is where it is today because of Musk’s sheer will. And the unveiling of a prototype version of the robot is sure to bolster Musk’s claims of Tesla as “the world’s largest robotics company.”


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