After postponing Tesla’s upcoming AI Day from August 19 to September 30, CEO Elon Musk chimed in saying the company could have a working humanoid sooner than planned. Dubbed “Optimus,” the upcoming humanoid robot was revealed at last year’s AI Day, and the first prototype could enter the world stage in a matter of months.
Above: Tesla’s humanoid robot “Optimus.” Photo: Tesla
As for why AI Day was postponed, Musk said it was because Tesla could have a working Optimus humanoid robot to show off by September 30, according to Forbes. While the company has already debuted its handle on AI through its Full-Self Driving beta and Autopilot systems, Optimus will represent an entirely new set of applications for the technology, necessitating a lot of work and data before it’s completed.
According to the debut of the humanoid robot at last year’s AI Day, Optimus will only be able to go 5 mph, and will lift up to 45 pounds or deadlift up to 150 pounds. The goal, according to the announcement, is for the robot to be able to perform simple and repetitive tasks for humans, and Musk has already said that the first of these bots will be working at Tesla factories — for one example of an application.
Musk has also said that the humanoid robot has the “potential to be more significant than the vehicle business over time,” adding that, in the future, “physical work will be a choice.” Whether Musk uses this to allude to something like Universal Basic Income, an idea with growing popularity in recent years as AI and automated systems improve, or simply to Tesla’s upcoming cuts of its salaried workforce while increasing hourly workers are both heavily speculated upon.
One thing is confirmed, however: Tesla has done enough development on the Optimus project that it will have a prototype working by the September 30 AI Day event. The event would mark the first time Tesla publicly displayed a working, autonomous humanoid robot, and the implications are almost limitless — ranging in possibilities from the start of a real-life sci-fi/thriller to a shift in the human story toward a less work-heavy future.
Either way, the development is quite significant.
As to whether Tesla will have the Optimus robot up and running, or for sale, in the coming years is yet to be seen. For one, Musk has a history of making high promises before inevitably delaying delivery. However, even if that’s the case, the fact remains that the Optimus robot from Tesla will come out eventually, and it could change things significantly in manufacturing, household maintenance, and much, much more.