Elon Musk unveiled prototype versions of Tesla’s Optimus robot at Tesla’s AI Day 2022 event on Friday. They were, well, definitely robots.
At the top of his speech, he offered this disclaimer: “I want to set some expectations for our Optimus robot. As you know, last year it was just one person in a robot suit. But we’ve come a long way, And it’s…compared to that, it’s going to be pretty impressive.”
other were the things the sixth most valuable company in the world revealed impressive compared to a person in a robot suit? You be the judge!
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Over the course of a three-hour event held at a Friday afternoonMusk and some of his Tesla employees updated the public not only on the robots themselves, but on Tesla’s entire robot operation and its AI development process. While showing off his stiff, wobbly robots, Musk was in a kind of goofy self-deprecating mode, rather than a completely stormy visionary mode, offering constant appeals to the audience’s good faith and reasonable expectations.
After all, Musk explained, “We just didn’t want him to fall flat on his face.”
The live demo featured a wire-laden skeletal Optimus robot that can walk on its own, along with a much less agile, but somewhat less obnoxious Optimus, with its wires hidden under a streamlined casing. However, that more streamlined version requires a whole team of people around you to keep you from falling over. If the content of a video presentation played on a screen during the live demo is to be believed, the cable-charging version can, if tethered to a fixture attached to the ceiling, water plants with a large plastic watering can and move for a long time. , thin metal objects in any kind of context where someone might need a robot to do that kind of thing.
And for an anticipated price of “probably under $20,000,” you too could have this perfectly normal human machine in your home. perhaps Musk and his companies have a long history of imaginative ideas that have yet to see the light of day. As the robotic snake loaders or Hyperloop, that Musk admitted it was a ploy to get California to cancel high-speed rail in the state.
Discussing the obstacles to building the robot, the Tesla team revealed that the prototype on stage was developed in the last six months. The hope is to get a working design within the “next few months…or years.” Demonstrations during the preview focused on how data was processed for each segment of the robot’s body: the arms, feet, joints, and even the “bio-inspired design” of its human-like hands.
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But Musk said that one of the reasons the event was happening in the first place was as some kind of high-budget help-want ad. He said Tesla wanted to “convince some of the most talented people in the world to come to Tesla and help bring this to fruition.”
The Optimus bot runs on the same Autopilot hardware in Tesla cars. The AI was then redesigned for its new environment, capturing the motion of real-world tasks like lifting a box. Clearly, Optimus can’t reliably do any of those things, but Musk claimed that Teslabot is “the biggest product development we’re doing this year.”
As many robotics experts have pointed out, many companies are making progress in developing robots that can not only walk, but also run and jump. But even those robots won’t be watering our houseplants anytime soon, and in any case, Musk has more promises than the actual fulfillment of those promises.
Musk was also keen to point out that Tesla is not entirely under his control and is instead “a publicly traded company with a class of shares,” a status that means, Musk claimed, “the public controls Tesla.” — an idiosyncratic statement that seems to conflate public stock trading with public ownership. In any case, Musk noted, “if I go crazy, they can fire me, this is important. Maybe I’m not crazy.”
Since similar robot development operations at other companies, such as sling other Toyota, have been going on without controversy for decades, there’s no reason to think that the development of robot hardware and software will suddenly lead to new claims that Musk is crazy. And anyway, so far, our conclusion from building Musk’s prototype is that Optimus is a robot that is bipedal and can walk.