Musk unveils humanoid ‘Optimus’ robot at Tesla’s AI Day

Tesla’s humanoid Optimus bot

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, displayed a model of its humanoid robot, dubbed ‘Optimus’, on Friday. He predicted that the electric vehicle manufacturer will be able to construct millions of them and sell them for about $20,000, or less than a third of the price of a Model Y.

The most thorough description of a business model Musk has yet to offer on one that he has claimed could be more lucrative than Tesla’s EV sales, Musk said he anticipated Tesla would be ready to take orders for the robot in three to five years and described an effort to develop the product over a decade or more.

Tesla stands out from other manufacturers that have experimented with humanoid robots with its effort to develop and construct mass-market robots that would also be tested by executing duties in its factories.

The much anticipated unveiling of prototype robots at Tesla’s Palo Alto, California, headquarters was also a part of what Musk has described as an endeavor to elevate Tesla beyond its status as a maker of “cool cars” to a leader in fields like artificial intelligence.

On Friday, Tesla unveiled an experimental test robot that it said was built in February. Tesla played a video of the robot performing routine chores at a manufacturing station at the company’s California facility, including watering plants, moving boxes, and lifting metal bars.

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But a more streamlined current one had to be rolled out on a platform and gave a slow wave to the crowd, Musk saying that it was closer to what he planned to put into production. It would be able to walk in a few weeks, according to Musk, who gave it the name Optimus.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done to refine Optimus and prove it,” Musk said, adding later, “I think Optimus is going to be incredible in five or 10 years, like mind blowing.”

Existing humanoid robots, according to him, lack a brain and the capacity to come up with solutions on their own. In contrast, he asserted, Tesla will aspire to build millions of Optimus, an “extremely capable robot.”

ABB and other manufacturers of production robots are a mainstay of the car industry, and other automakers like Toyota Motor (7203.T) and Honda Motor (7267.T) have created humanoid robot prototypes capable of complex tasks like shooting a basketball.

However, Tesla is the only company driving the market for a mass-market robot that may be used in factories.

Tesla-designed components, including a 2.3-kWh battery pack carried in its torso, a chip system, and actuators to operate its limbs, will be used in the next-generation Tesla bot. It is intended for the robot to weigh 73 kg.

Tesla engineers spoke about how they created the robot’s characteristics, especially in areas like how the fingers move, with an emphasis on lowering the cost of production.

We are attempting to follow the objective of the quickest path to a useful robot that can be manufactured in large quantities, Musk said.

Musk said that by establishing a robotics company, Tesla is altering the parameters of a well-known mission statement that has contributed to its attractiveness to investors and environmentalist by pledging to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”

“Optimus is not directly in line with accelerating sustainable energy,” Musk said. “I think the mission does somewhat broaden with the advent of Optimus to – you know, I don’t know: making the future awesome.”