The humanoid robot will be friendly and resourceful, and will even shop for your groceries.
A performer – donning a tight-fitted black and white robot-like costume – busted out his best moves to electronic dance music towards the end of Tesla Inc’s AI Showcase on August 19, 2021. The performer wasn’t there to mark the end of the showcase or challenge the audience to a dance-off. He was there to set the stage for CEO Elon Musk to announce that Tesla is building a robot codenamed “Optimus” or the “Tesla Bot.”
After the peppy dance performance, Musk got on stage to clarify that the performer is indeed human. He said, “Unlike the Dojo [supercomputer], [the dancing robot] is not real. The Tesla bot will be real.” Presently, however, it is just an idea. The company plans on releasing a prototype by 2022.
Explaining the features of the robot, he revealed that it would be 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weigh 125 pounds. Its face will be a screen bearing useful information, while its chest will flaunt the Tesla logo. He shared that the robot would do the “boring, repetitive and dangerous” tasks for humans. He illustrated that if you tell the robot to “go to the store and get the following groceries,” it would be able to do that. “It’s intended to be friendly,” he noted, smiling. The goal of the Tesla bot is to navigate through a world built for humans, a feat he acknowledges as challenging.
He also recognizes the dangers of building a robot, having warned about a “Terminator”-like situation in the past. He joked, “You can run away from it [the robot] and hopefully, overpower it.” If you can run faster than five miles per hour, Musk says, “You’ll be fine.”
Despite the zealous presentation, not everybody was impressed with this plan. Many people questioned the timing and relevance of this project, especially as there is no physical prototype for it. Responding to this, Musk pointed to the foundation of any economy — labor. He explained that when the time comes, robots will cater to the shortage of labor, encouraging the implementation of a universal basic income. Given that, he declared, “In the future, physical work will be a choice.” As for the timing, Musk — true to form — wants to be at the helm of the robot revolution. He asserted, “If we don’t [build this], someone else will make it. And so, we should.”
While he has the vision and the idea, Musk is yet to iron out the details. When an audience member asked him about humanoid economics, he said, “Well, I guess you’ll just have to see.” For now, the boogying man embodies Musk’s vision for the future.
Header Image by Flickr