Presumably Tesla isn’t busy enough building “full self driving” or cars that have half-year waitlists for new buyers. (Or worse: anyone wondering where Cybertruck is?) Now CEO Elon Musk has revealed a new project: Tesla Bot.
Tesla Bot is a 125 pound 5’8” humanoid robot. Launch goal: some time next year.
(Of course, full self driving has been promised for years as well.)
Musk went out of his way to reassure people who have been raised on movies with killer bots that this will not be dangerous.
“We’re setting it such that it is at a mechanical level, a physical level, that you can run away from it,” Musk, who has warned about the dangers of AI, said. “And most likely overpower it.”
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The Tesla Bot is intended to automate repetitive tasks, creating a future in which physical work will be a choice, not a requirement. It will eventually have labor force and job implications, Musk acknowledged, saying that universal basic income, or UBI, will eventually be a necessity. And, he said, it will be able to accomplish extremely complex and challenging tasks — for a robot — such as obeying an order to pick up a bolt and attach it to a machine with a wrench.
Why a human form?
It’s intended to be friendly and navigate a world built for humans. And at only 125 pounds and with a carrying capacity of 45 pounds, it won’t be a military or industrial threat. Top speed will be only five miles per hour, and lifting capacity with outstretched arms is only 10 pounds.
The Tesla Bot will deadlift 150 pounds, however.
It will have “human-level hands,” a screen on its “face” for useful information, and 40 electromechanical actuators: 12 in the arms, two each in the neck and torso, 12 in the legs, and 12 in the hands.
Musk framed it as a logical step for the innovative car company.
“Tesla is arguably the world’s biggest robotics company, because our cars are semi-sentient robots on wheels,” Musk said. “With the full self-driving computer, the inference engine on the car, which we’ll keep evolving obviously … neural nets, recognizing the world, understanding how to navigate through the world … it kinda makes sense to put that into a humanoid form.”
Tesla Bot will use Tesla’s full-self driving computer, autopilot cameras, and the company’s full suite of AI tools: neural net planning, auto-labeling for objects, simulation capability, and more.
It will be interesting to see if investors agree this is a logical next step.
Either way, it seems to be coming.
“The Tesla bot will be real,” Musk said at the company’s AI event today. “We think we’ll probably have a prototype next year.”
That does not sound like a huge level of certainty. And it’s not smart to take Tesla’s — or Musk’s — timelines as gospel. But it’s also not smart to underestimate the company’s innovation and abilities, nor Musk’s drive to create new technology and capability.