Tesla Reveals Optimus, a Walking Humanoid Robot You Could Buy in 2027


Tesla CEO Elon Musk Friday unveiled the company’s Tesla Bot, a robot codenamed Optimus that shuffled across a stage, waved and pumped its arms in a slow dance motion. The robot could cost $20,000 in three to five years, he said.

“Our goal is to create a useful humanoid robot as soon as possible,” Musk said. It could eventually “help millions of people,” but the first applications will be in Tesla’s car factories, he said.

The robot was not as flashy as some others like The parkour-compatible Atlas from Boston Dynamics, but it’s what Tesla put together in less than eight months. “The robot can do a lot more than what we showed you. We just didn’t want it to fall on its head,” Musk joked. Tesla AI Day 2022an event designed to showcase the company’s robot and autonomous vehicle technology called Fully self-driving or FSD.

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Ultimately, Musk wants to build Tesla Bots by the millions, leveraging hardware, software, manufacturing and supply chain advantages developed for his auto company. Take the company’s projections with a grain of salt, though. Tesla has succeeded as an automaker and led the rest of the industry towards an electric vehicle future, but it has missed many deadlines along the way.

The Optimus effort, while still early, is one of the most ambitious in the robotics world, given how widespread and capable Tesla hopes the robots can become. But progress is difficult. Rivals love Boston Dynamics have worked on humanoid robots for years, but have only produced prototypes so far. More common are robots with more limited capabilities, such as: delivery bots on wheels or Astro from Amazona household camera-equipped tablet on wheels.

Artificial intelligence technology works best with tight jobs, but Tesla’s car control technology and robots have to account for a huge variety in the real world. Optimus will likely live a protected life to begin with. The company plans to use it first in Tesla’s own factories.

Duties could include carrying parts to conventional robots on the production line, Musk said.

“The number of situations where Optimus is useful will grow exponentially,” Musk said. “Really, very quickly.”

A Tesla Optimus robot swings with one arm

The first prototype of Optimus, codename for the Tesla Bot, waves an arm during the Tesla AI Day 2022 event.

Screenshot by Claire Reilly/CNET

Two Tesla Bots on the podium

Musk showed two robots. The first running model was built with ready-made mechanical actuators, cylindrical devices that combine a motor with gear transmission and sensors. The second, whose limbs and fingers were controlled by Tesla’s own actuators, could not walk and was wheeled onto the stage. But the actuators allowed him to let his leg go to the side and grab it with his hands. In a video, the bots could do more, such as picking up boxes, holding a watering can for plants and twisting at the waist.

“It wasn’t quite ready to walk yet, but I think it will walk in a few weeks,” Musk said of the second Optimus robot.

Tesla already employed actuator engineers for its vehicles. The strongest actuator, a linear model used in the Optimus leg, can lift 1,000 pounds.

The second Optimus prototype weighs 161 pounds (73 kg). It uses a variant of the same computer hardware that powers Tesla’s FSD autonomous vehicle technology. The battery pack has a capacity of 2.3 kilowatt hours, “perfect for working all day,” said one engineer. It consumes about 100 watts of power sitting and 500 watts when walking briskly. That’s kind of like a high-end gaming PC.

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The first robot walked slowly, shuffling, with one foot just in front of the other. His bent knees gave him a slightly shaky gait, but that stance is common for robots, as a straight leg stance requires much more precise balance skills. The robot could twist and bend at the waist. The body was dotted with mostly green LEDs, and inside the box was a large computer with dual spinning fans to cool the processors.

Tesla engineers emphasized the degrees of freedom in the Optimus robots — essentially the different ways they can bend or rotate at different joints. The entire robot body has more than 28 degrees of freedom, and each hand has 11, Tesla said.

For security reasons, the robots will include an external mechanism so that people can stop them, Musk said, and that override mechanism cannot be updated over the Internet. In the longer term, for security reasons, the robots will likely be “ruled by some laws of robotics that you can’t overcome, as others do no harm,” Musk said, referring to science fiction author Isaac Asimov’s three laws of robotics.

Tesla uses the same AI software to control the Tesla Bot as in its cars. Some of the same technology applies, such as measuring the “occupation” of nearby areas. It’s just trained with real-world environments rather than controlling video, Tesla said.

Musk didn’t hold back on the sci-fi promises for Tesla’s robots. With robots at work, the economy is entering a new era, a “future of abundance, a future where there is no poverty, a future where you can have whatever you want in terms of products and services,” Musk said. “It’s really a fundamental transformation of civilization as we know it.”

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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