Tesla is working on humanoid robot
Tesla boss Elon Musk has unveiled plans for a metallic humanoid robot that will perform unsafe, repetitive, or boring tasks and will be built on the same technology as the company’s semi-autonomous vehicles.
The whimsical entrepreneur promised a prototype of the ‘Tesla Bot’, which will have five fingers on its hands and an androgynous black-and-white silhouette next year. Musk announced on Thursday during an AI event an online presentation to develop technologies for autonomous driving. The aim was to attract new engineers.
“Tesla is certainly the most important robotics company in the world because its cars are semi-aware robots on wheels, with an on-board computer specifically for autonomous driving,” Elon Musk said. So, according to Musk, it makes sense that all this is now being put into a ‘Humanoid form’.
Screen for a face
Musk said during the meeting that the Tesla Bot, which is about 1,80 meters long, weighs 57 kg, and has a screen for a face should be able to take over various tasks, such as fixing bolts on cars with spanners or, why not, picking up groceries at the shop. The Robot is also capable of carrying loads weighing up to 20 kg.
“The company is designing the machine at a mechanical level,” said Musk, so that “you can run away from it, and most likely overpower it”. The code name for the bot inside the company is ‘Optimus’, he said.
Change the economy
According to the billionaire, the robot will be able to dramatically change the economy, especially because the Tesla Bot will address the labor shortage and would employees spare themselves the physical effort. But, according to Musk, the machine mustn’t become “super expensive”.
According to Forbes, Musk, the second richest man globally, has created other start-ups, such as SpaceX, which became the world’s first private rocket launch company, and Nueralink, which specializes in brain implants. He believes in the risk of artificial intelligence competing with human civilization and hopes, through Neuralink, to achieve a “symbiosis” between humans and these technologies.
At the event, Tesla also unveiled chips designed in-house for its high-speed computer, Dojo, to help develop its automated driving system. Musk said Dojo would be operational next year. He also said Tesla would introduce new hardware for its self-driving computer for its Cybertruck electric pick-up truck in “about a year or so”.
FSD technologies under pressure
Tesla’s AI event was held at a time when there is much criticism of the safety of Tesla technology. This particularly concerns the Autopilot system in the company’s cars. Musk did not respond to the criticism. However, he did say that he is confident that in time, self-driving cars will be safer than the cars that are already on the road with all kinds of aids, such as cameras and computers, but for which the driver is responsible.
American safety regulators opened an investigation into Tesla’s driver assistance system Autopilot and Full Self Driving technologies earlier last week because of a series of collisions in which the cars were involved. Pressure on the automaker’s Autopilot system is also increasing from politicians. Several senators want the Fair Trade Commission to investigate Tesla’s autonomous driving system.
Over the years, Tesla owners have paid as much as $10 000 for the FSD package, which can be purchased as an extra on Tesla cars. It’s a collection of services that add to Tesla’s Autopilot, the driver-assistance technology, but critics say FSD hasn’t lived up to its name since its debut more than two years ago.
Bluff or technological step forward?
Tesla is entering the humanoid robot market, while the historical players are moving away from it due to a lack of profitability. Google has thrown in the towel. A few days ago, the Japanese company SoftBank announced that it was stopping the production of its Pepper robot.
The android designed by French start-up Aldebaran, acquired by SoftBank in 2015, has been on the market for seven years. However, the robot, sold for 20 000 dollars each, was never as successful as expected.
SoftBank also owned Boston Dynamics, 80% of which was sold to carmaker Hyundai last year. The company, which invented the Atlas robot, has never been profitable, writes Le Figaro. Its chief executive, Robert Playter, hopes to break even by 2023-2024. No one seems to want to finance their own personal army of robots.
Tesla’s history is littered with fanciful ideas that never panned out, like, for example, a solar-powered Supercharger network, battery swiping, or robotic snake-style chargers. So it’s anyone’s guess as to whether a working Tesla Bot will ever see the light of day, writes The Verge.