December 9, 2022

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Tesla previews humanoid robot, but Musk warns it's not ready yet

Tesla previews humanoid robot, but Musk warns it’s not ready yet

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 30 (Reuters) – TESLA (TSLA.O) CEO Elon Musk said Friday that the humanoid robot the maker of the electric car eagerly awaits “Optimus” costs less than $20,000, and warned that it still has a long way to go before it is fully operational.

“There is still a lot of work to be done to improve and prove the Optimus,” Musk told the electric car maker’s AI Day event taking place at Tesla’s office in Palo Alto, California.

Currently, Musk said, robots are “missing a brain” — and the ability to solve problems on their own. By contrast, he said, Optimus will be a “super capable robot” that Tesla aims to produce by the millions. He said he expected it to cost less than $20,000.

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Tesla said the company developed a prototype of its robot in February. This early model came out to wave to the crowd on Friday, and Tesla showed a video of it doing simple tasks, such as watering stations, carrying boxes and lifting metal rods at a production plant at Tesla’s California plant.

Representatives from Musk and Tesla acknowledged that there is a lot of work to be done to achieve the goal of mass-producing a robot at low cost, using Tesla-designed technology that will be able to replace humans at work.

Other automakers, including Toyota Motor (7203.T) and Honda Motor (7267.T)has developed prototypes of humanoid robots capable of doing complex things like shooting a basketball, and production robots from ABB and other mainstays of car manufacturing are.

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But only Tesla is driving the market opportunity for a large-scale robot that can also be used in factory work.

Rolled out on stage by employees, the next generation of Tesla’s robot will use components designed by Tesla, including a 2.3 kWh battery pack mounted in its stem, a chip system and actuators to drive its limbs. The robot is designed to weigh 73 kg.

“He wasn’t quite ready to walk. But I think he’ll be walking in a few weeks,” Musk said.

Musk described the event as aimed at hiring workers, and the engineers on stage catered to the artistic audience. They detailed the process by which Tesla designed the robot’s hands and used simulated collision technology to test the robot’s ability to fall on its face without breaking.

Musk, who has spoken before about the dangers of AI, has said the mass proliferation of robots has the potential to “transform civilization” and create “a future of plenty, a future without poverty.” But he said he believed it was important for Tesla shareholders to have a role in examining the company’s efforts.

“If I go crazy, you can fire me,” Musk said. “this is important.”

At the event, Tesla also discussed its long-awaited self-driving technology. Engineers working on the self-driving software described how they trained the software to choose actions, such as when to merge into traffic, and how they speed up computer decision-making.

In May, Musk said the world’s most valuable automaker would be “basically zero valued” without achieving full self-driving capability, and it faces mounting regulatory investigations, as well as technological hurdles.

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Musk said he expects Tesla to achieve fully autonomous driving this year and mass-produce an automated taxi without a steering wheel or pedal by 2024.

At the “Autonomy” event in 2019, Musk promised one million automated cars by 2020, but he has not yet delivered such a car.

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Reporting from Hyunjoo Jin; Written by Muralikumar Anantharaman. Editing by Peter Henderson and Daniel Wallis

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.