The Tesla bot known as Optimus might be coming sooner than expected – and could already be doing some small tasks on the car assembly line. The initial concept of the Tesla humanoid bot was introduced to the public at Tesla’s AI day 2021 by the boss himself, Elon Musk.
The mogul was confident that a working prototype would be showcased at the Tesla AI Day 2022. However, on the day the bot presented to the masses was not as impressive as what Tesla CEO had sold to the public the previous year.
Elon Musk himself said: “I do want to set some expectations with respect to our Optimus robot… Last year was just a person in a robot suit, but we’ve come a long way, and compared to that, it’s going to be very impressive.”
A significant rate of improvement
This suggest that the one-year mark he’d suggested in 2021 might have been too tight to deliver the humanoid bot prototype. Although the Tesla Bot showcased at the event demonstrated a few functions, it was said it could handle more than showed: Elon suggested they did not want the humanoid robot to fall onto its face.
Even so, the robot managed to walk untethered and unsupported, which one of the engineers said was the first time it had done so. A fact that did not impress Evan Ackerman.
Fast forward to 2023, Tesla was back with Optimus at the 2023 Investor Day (March 1) showing off its progress with the humanoid bot. Specifically, a video of the bot completing some tasks in a room at the Texas gigafactory.
“It’s worth bearing in mind that when we did AI Day, this version of Optimus didn’t walk at all. So, the rate of improvement here is quite significant,” Musk told reporters.
What to expect
Walter believes that by the end of the year Tesla will have 500 AI bots fully-functional and working in its factories.
Walter believes it’s already possible that some of the Tesla cars coming off the production line might have certain components installed by the Optimus bot(s) either in a testing or learning operation.
Is Tesla brewing a surprise?
Another belief Walter strongly holds is that Tesla will shock people who are skeptical about Optimus and think it is still decades away from being delivered.
In the video, he also discusses how the Tesla engineers have mimicked human biology in designing the humanoid bot, especially looking at the hands which closely resemble a human’s bone structure.
“Optimus looks like an old person just now, but it will become younger quickly and will soon bounce around like a teenager,” said CJC responding to Herbert’s tweet about the Tesla bot.
The fate of the bot is yet to be determined, but Elon Musk has form for surprising the masses; you only need to look at SpaceX’s reusable rockets and Tesla’s electric cars. Might the streets one day look like a scene from sci-fi thriller I-Robot? The day could be sooner than we think.
Robots seem inevitable
With the market seemingly enthusiastic about tasking robots with doing daily errands, it makes sense for tech companies to tap into this field.
Elon Musk has previously said he thinks Optimus “has the potential to be more significant than the vehicle business over time.”
“I’d love my own Optimus at home – so many ways it could make my life better. Multiply this by 10,000 for a business,” said a Tweeter account, Business Models and History.
The excitement around robots cannot be overlooked on the back of their ability to improve efficiency and safety in production processes. For instance, in 2012 Amazon acquired a robotics company called Kiva and had 1,000 robots a year later.
There was speculation that Amazon would replace humans with robots, but a decade on the company has more than 520,000 robotic drive units and added over a million jobs worldwide.
Some customers are still wary, though. Responding to a tweet by Jon Erlichman about the Amazon robots, Big Luke believe it’s “time for Amazon to switch back to cross belt sorters.”
Others fear robots will only bring about job losses for people.
“Looks like 410,000 people who have lost their jobs. Ever thought about that,” said one user, Mario Fernandes, in response to Erlichman’s tweet about Amazon’s robot fleet.