Tesla Bot

Tesla’s Humanoid Robot No Longer a Human in a Suit

The humanoid robot promised last year by Tesla CEO Elon Musk made its appearance this week at Tesla AI Day 2022. Announcing that “we’ve come a long way,” Musk welcomed the robot as it shuffled onto the stage, a far cry from the human in a robot suit last year, though not quite the Optimus robot Musk promised was on its way.

Optimus Tesla Bot

Though not entirely steady on its feet, the Bumble C robot, continuing the Transformers naming convention, did manage to cautiously appear before the crowd without any extra support, before slowly heading offstage again, exposed cables wobbling. The rest of the presentation highlighted some of the robot’s capabilities in more controlled circumstances, including lifting and moving a sheet of metal, carrying a box in an office, and watering a plant. The bipedal robot is very far from a finished product, but it did show researchers had made progress beyond a human pretending to be a robot.

The presentation also hinted at some integration with Tesla vehicles due to overlapping components. The same battery and computing hardware and software in Tesla vehicles will be used the robots, and it could even aid the Tesla Autopilot for self-driving cars. There’s no specific timeline for the robot, but Musk and the Tesla team said the goal is a robot that can work all day, carry a 20-pound bag, use tools, and grip with precision. All of that in a 160-pound robot and costing only $20,000 seems unlikely, but the limited walk of Bumble C indicates real resources going into this development.

“We’re gonna start Optimus with very simple tests in the factory. You know, like maybe just loading a part like you saw on the video,” Musk said. “Right now we just want to make basic humanoid work well, and our goal is fastest path to a useful humanoid robot.”

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