Tesla previews humanoid robot, but Musk cautions it is not ready just yet

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 30 (Reuters) – Tesla (TSLA.O) CEO Elon Musk said on Friday that the electric vehicle maker’s “Optimus” humanoid robot will cost less than $20,000 and warned it still has some way to go before it becomes fully functional.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done to refine Optimus and prove it,” Musk said at the electric vehicle maker’s “AI Day” event held at a Tesla office in Palo Alto, Calif.

Musk said existing humanoid robots “lack a brain” – and the ability to solve problems on their own. By contrast, he said, Optimus would be an “extremely capable robot” that Tesla would aim to produce in the millions. He said he expected it to cost less than $20,000.

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Tesla said the company developed a prototype for its robot in February. This first model came out to wave to the crowds on Friday, and Tesla showed video of it performing simple tasks, like watering plants, carrying boxes and lifting metal bars at a production station at the California factory. of Tesla.

Representatives for Musk and Tesla have acknowledged that there is a lot of work to be done to achieve the goal of a mass-produced, low-cost robot using Tesla-designed technology that would be able to replace humans in the world. work.

Other car manufacturers, including Toyota Motor (7203.T) and Honda engine (7267.T)have developed prototype humanoid robots capable of doing complicated things like shooting a basketball, and production robots from ABB and others are a mainstay in automotive manufacturing.

But Tesla is the only one pushing the market opportunity for a consumer robot that could also be used in factory work.

A next-generation Tesla bot, which was launched on stage by staff, will use Tesla-designed components, including a 2.3 kWh battery carried in its torso, a chip system and actuators to train its limbs. The robot is designed to weigh 73 kg.

“It wasn’t quite ready to go. But I think it will work in a few weeks,” Musk said.

Musk described the event as intended to recruit workers, and the engineers on stage were aimed at a technical audience. They detailed the process by which Tesla designed robot hands and used crash simulation technology to test the robot’s ability to land on its face without breaking.

Musk, who has previously spoken about the risks of artificial intelligence, said the massive deployment of robots has the potential to “transform civilization” and create “a future of abundance, a future without poverty.” But he said he thought it was important for Tesla shareholders to play a role in reviewing the company’s efforts.

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

Tesla also discussed its long-delayed self-driving technology at the event. 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 sped up the computer decision-making process.

In May, Musk said the world’s most valuable automaker “would be worth practically zero” if it didn’t achieve full self-driving capability, and faced mounting regulatory investigations, as well as to technological barriers.

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

At an “Autonomy” event in 2019, Musk promised 1 million robotaxis by 2020 but has yet to deliver such a car.

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

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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