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

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept 30 (Reuters) – Tesla (TSLA.O) Chief Executive Elon Musk showed off a prototype of the humanoid robot Optimus Prime on Friday, predicting the electric car maker’s Automakers will be able to produce millions of them and sell them for less than $20,000 — less than a third of the Model Y’s price.

“There’s a lot of work to be done to perfect and prove Optimus,” Musk said at the electric carmaker’s “AI Day” event at Tesla’s offices in Palo Alto, Calif., where the robot was on display.

Tesla said a prototype model it developed in February stepped out and waved to the crowd on Friday, and Tesla showed a video showing it performing simple tasks such as watering plants at one of the company’s production stations in California Water, carry boxes and lift metal rod plants.

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The team has rolled out a leaner, contemporary robot on the cart, and Musk has said he hopes it will soon be able to walk on its own.

Existing humanoid robots, he said, “lack a brain” — and the ability to solve problems on their own. In contrast, he said, Optimus would be an “extremely powerful robot” that Tesla aims to produce in the millions. He said he expected it to cost less than $20,000.

Representatives of Musk and Tesla acknowledged that there is still a lot of work to be done to achieve the goal of mass-produced, low-cost robots using Tesla-designed technology that can replace humans at work.

Other automakers, including Toyota Motor (7203.T) and Honda Motor (7267.T), have developed prototypes of humanoid robots capable of doing complex things like shooting a basketball, while ABB and others’ production robots are part of the automotive industry. mainstay.

But only Tesla is driving the market opportunity for mass-market robots that can also be used for factory work.

The next-generation Tesla robot, brought on stage by the crew, will use Tesla-designed components, including a 2.3-kilowatt-hour battery pack carried by its torso, a system-on-chip, and the actuators that drive its limbs. The robot is designed to weigh 73 kg.

“It’s not ready to walk yet. But I think it will be done in a few weeks,” Musk said.

Musk described the event as aimed at recruiting workers, with engineers on stage catering to a technical audience. They detailed Tesla’s process for designing the robotic hand and used crash simulator technology to test the robot’s ability to fall on the face without breaking.

Musk has previously spoken about the risks of artificial intelligence, saying the mass rollout of robots has the potential to “change civilization” and create “a future of abundance, a future without poverty.” But he said he thinks it’s important for Tesla shareholders to play a role in scrutinizing the company’s efforts.

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

Many of the reactions on Twitter have been positive, focusing on the pace of Tesla’s development since last August, when it announced its project, which featured a stunt in which a man in a white suit simulates a humanoid robot.

Henri Ben Amor, a professor of robotics at Arizona State University, said Musk’s $20,000 price target was a “good proposition” because humanoid robots currently cost about $100,000.

“There’s a bit of a discrepancy between that ambition and what they’re proposing,” he said. “When it comes to dexterity speed, the ability to walk steadily, and so on, there’s a lot of work to be done.”

Aaron Johnson, a professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, also said the need for robots is debatable.

“What’s really impressive is how quickly they got to this level. What’s still a bit vague is what the exact use case is for them making millions of these products,” Johnson said.

Tesla also discussed its long-delayed self-driving technology at the event. Engineers working on self-driving software describe how they train the software to choose actions, such as when to merge into traffic, and how they speed up the computer decision-making process.

In May, Musk said the world’s most valuable automaker would have “essentially zero value” without full self-driving capability and faced mounting regulatory scrutiny as well as technical hurdles.

Musk has said he expects Tesla to achieve full self-driving this year and mass-produce a robo-taxi without a steering wheel or pedals by 2024.

At the 2019 “Autonomy” event, Musk promised to produce 1 million self-driving taxis by 2020, but no such vehicles have been delivered.

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Reporting by Hyun Joo Kim; Writing by Muralikumar Anantharaman; Editing by Peter Henderson and Daniel Wallis

Our Standard: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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