Humanoid robot Optimus is said to be sold in the millions

What Elon Musk is presenting at the “Tesla AI Night” is a humanoid robot with a visible inner workings. Is it the manufacturer’s next mass product or just a test lab for autonomous driving?

Tesla first showed the Optimus robot in late September 2022.

Screenshot: Youtube

When Tesla CEO Elon Musk invites you to the “Night of Artificial Intelligence”, the world listens. A year ago, Musk called the world press to Palo Alto, in the heart of Silicon Valley, to announce big things. At that time it was a humanoid robot that casually walked onto the stage at the end of the event. However, it was nothing more than a human in robot disguise.

On Friday, September 30th, the robot christened Optimus turned out to be a real machine. Inside, joints, delicate hands, everything was visible. He can raise his hand in greeting, but he’s not ready to walk yet. For his performance, Optimus was wheeled into the spotlight on a platform.

Not only the name is known now. Musk’s intention to produce millions of Optimus and sell them for around 20,000 francs. The humanoid robot should be available to order in three to five years, but the manufacturer did not mention an earliest delivery date.

Will the Tesla Bot become more important than the electric cars?

Tesla customers need patience, says experience. However, once the product goes on sale, Musk said it will only get better and better over a period of about 10 years. The development of the Optimus should continue.

Then came the statement that indicates the seriousness of this new Musk venture: The humanoid robots business could eventually achieve higher sales than Tesla’s entire electric car division.

Musk plans to use the Optimus or later versions of it in building other products on the assembly line as well. This is where the Tesla robot differs from humanoids from other automakers. The Honda Asimo, for example, was only intended to show the engineering achievements of the Japanese car manufacturer. He was never suitable for parts production and has since retired.

Optimus is still in its infancy. So far it is an experimental prototype that was developed according to the manufacturer in February. In a video, he practices simple everyday tasks such as watering flowers and carrying boxes. But he should only learn to walk within the next few weeks.

Artificial intelligence at the core of Tesla products

Unlike the robot competitors from Boston Dynamics and Xiaomi, Optimus is supposed to have a brain with artificial intelligence. This should enable him to solve problems himself. Tesla wants to develop its own electronics and implant a battery heart with a capacity of 2.3 kWh in the robot. Including all chips and actuators for the limbs, it should weigh 73 kilograms.

With Optimus, Elon Musk contradicts his own warnings about the risks of artificial intelligence with which he tried to shake up the world of technology in the past. According to his own statement, he now wants to “transform civilization” with his intelligent robots and create “a future of abundance”, “one without poverty”.

Behind the new line of business with humanoid robots, however, there is likely to be something completely different. What the engineers can test with Optimus are all the important functions of highly automated cars. In this way, the bot could help Tesla Autopilot finally be able to live up to its name and safely make its own driving decisions. According to Musk, this should be the case as early as the end of 2022. That can be doubted.

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