Tesla will build a humanoid robot called the Tesla Bot, CEO Elon Musk said Thursday.
“We’re good at sensors and batteries, too, and will likely have a prototype that looks like this next year,” Musk said shortly after an actor in a body suit that was supposed to look like the Tesla robot spun wildly on stage . He noted that the actor isn’t a real robot, but “the Tesla Bot will be real”.
The announcement came as part of AI Day, a series of technology talks Tesla is holding in California to recruit machine learning talent.
The Tesla Bot is an example of Musk’s showmanship in which he announces that Tesla is working on exciting products planned for years into the future to motivate supporters such as employees, customers and investors. Often times, these announcements are not made on the predicted timeline.
For example, at an Autonomy Day event in April 2019, Musk said the company would have 1 million autonomous “robotaxis” on the streets by 2020. These robotic taxis are nowhere to be seen. In October 2016, Musk hosted an event at In the Back Yard of Universal Studios in Los Angeles, where he presented a product he named Solar Roof, and the solar roof tiles on display turned out to be purely conceptual.
If a humanoid robot works and can do repetitive tasks that only humans can do today, it has a chance to transform the world economy by lowering labor costs.
However, Musk warned that the robot “probably won’t work” at first.
“It’s supposed to be kind, of course, to navigate a human world and eliminate dangerous, repetitive, and boring tasks,” said Musk.
Musk said the robot, code-named “Optimus” is based on the same chips and sensors that Tesla’s cars use for self-driving functions. It’s five feet eight inches tall and has a screen that is upside down for useful information, Musk said. Tesla is developing it so that humans can run away from the robot or overwhelm it.
Slides shown by Tesla on Thursday show autopilot cameras will be installed in the bot’s head. It will be able to carry 45 pounds, lift 150 pounds, and weigh 125 pounds. It can run 5 miles an hour, Musk said.
Musk said the robot wasn’t meant to help Tesla’s production, but that Tesla is developing many of the computers needed for robotics, so it makes sense for Tesla to build a robot.
“It should be able to please go to the store and get me the following groceries, things like that,” Musk said.