Tesla reveals Optimus, a walking humanoid robot you could buy in 2027
Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Friday unveiled the company’s Tesla Bot, a robot named Optimus that walked across a stage, waved and pumped its arms in a low-speed dance motion. The robot could cost $20,000 within three to five years, he said.
“Our goal is to make a useful humanoid robot as quickly as possible,” Musk said. It could eventually “help millions of people,” but the first uses will be at Tesla’s auto factories, he said.
The robot was not as flashy as others, like Atlas Compatible with Boston Dynamics Parkour, but that’s what Tesla put together in less than eight months. “The robot can do so much more than what we’ve shown you. We just didn’t want it to fall on your face,” Musk joked. Tesla AI Day 2022an event designed to showcase the company’s robot and autonomous vehicle technology, called Full self-driving or FSD.
Ultimately, Musk wants to build Tesla Bots by the millions, taking advantage of the hardware, software, manufacturing and supply chain advantages developed for his automotive business. Take the company’s projections with a handful of salt, however. Tesla has succeeded as an automaker, leading the rest of the industry toward an electric vehicle future, but it has missed many milestones along the way.
Optimus’ effort, while still early, is among the most ambitious in the robotics world given the scope and capability that Tesla hopes robots can become. But progress is difficult. rivals like Boston Dynamics have worked for years on humanoid robots but have so far only produced prototypes. More common are robots with more limited capabilities, such as wheeled delivery robots Where Amazon Astroa home tablet equipped with a camera on wheels.
Artificial intelligence technology works best with narrow jobs, but Tesla’s car-steering technology and robots have to reckon with immense variety in the real world. Optimus will likely lead a sheltered life to begin with. The company plans to use it first in Tesla’s own factories.
Jobs could include transporting parts to conventional robots on the manufacturing line, Musk said.
“The number of situations where Optimus is useful will grow exponentially,” Musk said. “Really, really fast.”
Two Tesla robots on stage
Musk showed off two robots. The first walking model was built with off-the-shelf mechanical actuators, cylindrical devices that combine a motor with gears and sensors. The second, whose limbs and fingers were controlled by Tesla’s own actuators, could not walk and was carried onto the stage. But his actuators allow him to drop his leg to the side and grab with his hands. In one video, the robots could do more, including pick up boxes, hold a watering can for plants, and spin at the waist.
“He wasn’t quite ready to walk, but I think he will walk in a few weeks,” Musk said of the second Optimus robot.
Tesla already had actuator engineers on staff for its vehicles. The most powerful actuator, a linear model used in the Optimus leg, can lift 1,000 pounds.
The second Optimus prototype weighs 161 pounds (73 kg). It uses a variant of the same computer hardware that powers Tesla’s FSD autonomous vehicle technology. Its battery has a capacity of 2.3 kilowatt hours, “perfect for a full day’s work,” said an engineer. It consumes about 100 watts when sitting and 500 watts when walking briskly. It’s something like a high-end gaming PC.
The first robot walked at a slow, shuffling pace, one foot placed just in front of the other. His bent knees gave him a somewhat choppy gait, but this posture is common for robots because a straight leg stance requires much more precise balance abilities. The robot was able to rotate and flex at the waist. Its body was dotted with mostly green LEDs, and its trunk featured a large computer with two rotating fans to cool the processors.
Tesla engineers focused on the Optimus robots’ degrees of freedom – essentially the different ways they can bend or twist at different joints. The robot’s full body has more than 28 degrees of freedom and each hand has 11, Tesla said.
For security reasons, the bots will include an external mechanism so people can stop them, Musk said, and that replacement mechanism cannot be updated over the internet. Longer term, for safety reasons, robots will likely be “governed by certain laws of robotics that you can’t overcome, like not harming others,” Musk said, a reference to the three laws of science fiction author Isaac’s robotics. Asimov.
Tesla uses the same AI software to control the Tesla Bot that it uses in its cars. Some of the same technology applies, such as measuring the “occupancy” of neighboring areas. It’s just trained with real environments instead of driving video, Tesla said.
Musk didn’t hold back on Tesla’s sci-fi robot promises. With robots at work, the economy is entering a new era, a “future of plenty, a future where there is no poverty, a future where you can have anything you want in terms of products and service,” Musk said. “It really is a fundamental transformation of civilization as we know it.”
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