Last Thursday (19), Tesla held its annual lecture circuit to recruit talent and present the brand’s new technologies. This year, the theme of the event was Artificial Intelligence Day. Elon Musk, CEO of the company, used the conference to announce the Tesla Bot, also known as Optimus: a humanoid robot designed by the automaker.
According to the billionaire, the robot would serve as an auxiliary to humans. It could replace a person with dangerous, repetitive, or downright tedious tasks like shopping at the grocery store. Optimus would be equipped with artificial intelligence, being able to respond to voice commands from its owners.
Realize that we use would do and could – because the robot hasn’t even started to come out of the paper. The promise is broken, but let’s understand the proposal before we get to this point.
Tesla’s flagship is literally electric cars. In addition, the company is also betting on autonomous cars – that is, those that do not need a driver. The sensors applied to the robot would be the same ones already used in the company’s vehicles. The Optimus would also have several cameras distributed over its 173 centimeters in height, in addition to 40 electromechanical actuators that allow the machine to move. He also has a screen where his face would be, such as on a computer or cell phone, which must be used to transmit messages.
According to Elon Musk, physical work will become a choice for humans. Robots will take the lead and, as a way out of unemployment, the billionaire talked about the attribution of a universal basic income. If you’ve played the game Detroit: Become Human, in which robots gain human consciousness, may be a little apprehensive about the news. This is even a concern of Elon Musk himself, who even said, in the past, that a possible machine revolution could lead to a 3rd World War.
Even so, the businessman said during the presentation that Optimus will be friendly, and explained that the robot is designed so that its human owner can dominate it or escape from it, if necessary. The machine would have a maximum speed of 8 kilometers per hour and would be weak enough to be contained. To get an idea, Musk says the robot will weigh 57 kilos and will support loads of up to 20 kilos. Better safe than sorry.
“Our cars are like robots on wheels,” said the businessman. “It makes sense to put this in a humanoid form. We’re also good at making sensors, batteries and actuators.”
Elon Musk announced that the first Tesla Bot prototype will be ready in 2022, but it’s best to keep expectations low. During the lecture, there was no demonstration of Optimus, but the display of a dancer dressed as a robot which, by the way, only made the whole lecture even more bizarre. In addition, Musk’s promises on his lecture circuits are notorious for being unfulfilled: the track record ranges from never-applied solar shingles to a large fleet of autonomous “robotaxis” that did not go into circulation.
Tesla has been embroiled in recent controversies over accidents involving its cars, and the announcement may have been just a way to shift the press’s focus. In April of this year, two Americans died after the vehicle Model S 2019 crash into a tree and catch fire. Rescuers found no one in the driver’s seat, leading authorities to believe the car was on autopilot. Tesla disputes the information, saying that the feature does not work if passengers are unbelted (which was the case) and that the man found in the front seat may have been thrown into the passenger’s location after the crash.
US federal security regulators are still investigating the case. In any case, the controversy makes it even more difficult to execute a robot that – at least according to Musk – is a copy of autonomous cars.