Tesla did their big AI Day presentation today, which is where the company gives a progress report cyberdog and robopony show about the state of their artificial intelligence systems, which have to this point been used to run the Tesla’s Level 2 semi-automated driver assist system known as Autopilot and the still very inaccurately named Full Self-Driving beta. Even though these systems are nowhere near being complete for driving a car, the company is leveraging the tech into an entirely other direction: humanoid robots. Oh boy.
This is the whole AI Day presentation here, but I’ve cued it up to the humanoid robot part:
The segment starts, hilariously, with some dude in a spandex suit walking robotically:
…and then dancing, until Elon chases him off:
Elon admits that robot wasn’t real, but that what they’re working on actually is, and states that
“Tesla is arguably the biggest robotics company because our cars are like semi-sentient robots on wheels.”
I’m not sure how much I agree with the “semi-sentient” part, but, sure, they’re robots on wheels. I know a book that made that very point, even.
Elon goes on to say that all of Tesla’s neural-net-based AI hardware and sensor systems “make sense to put onto a humanoid form,” and that Tesla will have a prototype “sometime next year” that looks like the Tesla bot shown in the presentation.
Elon also said the robot is “intended to be friendly, of course” so, um, good? Glad to hear that. Gotta hand it to Tesla’s product research department for identifying that people may not be so interested in an unfriendly humanoid robot. Great work, team!
But, just in case it decides, fuck it, let’s not be friendly, Musk did mention that you can “run away from it,” an feature that Tesla’s cars currently don’t have.
It’s about 5’8″, 125 pounds, has a bunch of cameras and a display in its head, Tesla’s FSD computer in its chest, plenty of actuators, can deadlift 150 pounds and maybe can slap the glasses off your face.
Oh, and the robot’s code name is “Optimus,” or, as Elon joked “Optimus Subprime.”
Elon went on to say that in the future, “physical work will be a choice,” and didn’t really give too much more information about the robot, though a static model/repainted H&M store mannequin was present to not answer questions:
The big unasked question that most Tesla-stans are undoubtedly asking, “can I fuck it?” was not directly addressed, but I’d suspect that yeah, with enough determination and possible hardware modifications, one probably could.
As far as how real this is, I’m leaning more towards the vaporware horseshit end of the spectrum. “Sometime next year” in Elon-ese could mean pretty much any time in the future, and, remember, Tesla needs to figure out how to build all those Cybertrucks they sold pre-orders for first.
I’m not saying that Tesla won’t someday make a humanoid robot; while this may have surprised a lot of people, it’s worth remembering that carmakers have been in the robot business for quite some time.
Honda’s Asimo robot, for example, is among the most advanced humanoid robots out there, and Honda has been at this for decades now. Toyota has been building humanoid robots, too:
Really, when it comes to carmakers making robots, Tesla is pretty late to the game.
Also, when did everyone decide that these robots all had to be glossy black and white? Well, I guess GM gave theirs a gold helmet, so good on them.
Will Tesla actually build and sell these? Maybe! Will they do useful things? Who knows? Can you teach them what this human thing called “love” is?
Yes. Yes you can.