Tesla CEO Elon Musk has revealed more details about Tesla Optimus, the company’s upcoming humanoid robot, and how he sees the product rolling out over the next decade.
Over the last few years, Musk has been getting quite cozy with the Chinese government.
In a country known for its protectionism, the CEO managed to score for Tesla the first car factory in China wholly owned by a foreign automaker.
He also often praises the country’s engineering and scientific prowess while also limiting his criticism of China’s authoritarian regime.
Now in another example of Musk getting cozier with China, the CEO was invited to publish a column in the Cyberspace Administration of China’s official publication. The government agency has wide-ranging power in China to control the internet and data security.
In the column titled “Believing in technology for a better future,” Musk reiterated his goals for SpaceX to enable humanity to become multi-planetary and Tesla to accelerate the advent of sustainable energy.
Interestingly, Musk also wrote an entire section about Tesla Optimus, the company’s humanoid robot project. The CEO recently said that the robot project had become a top priority at Tesla, and it shows by how much time he spent on it in the new column.
Here’s the relevant part from a version translated to English by China’s state media Beijing Channel:
Today’s cars are increasingly like smart, web-connected robots on wheels. In fact, in addition to cars, humanoid robots are also becoming a reality, with Tesla launching a general-purpose humanoid robot (Tesla Bot) in 2021. The Tesla Bot is close to the height and weight of an adult, can carry or pick up heavy objects, walk fast in small steps, and the screen on its face is an interactive interface for communication with people. You may wonder why we designed this robot with legs. Because human society is based on the interaction of a bipedal humanoid with two arms and ten fingers. So if we want a robot to adapt to its environment and be able to do what humans do, it has to be roughly the same size, shape, and capabilities as a human.
Tesla Bots are initially positioned to replace people in repetitive, boring, and dangerous tasks. But the vision is for them to serve millions of households, such as cooking, mowing lawns, and caring for the elderly.
Achieving this goal requires that robots evolve to be smart enough and for us to have the ability to mass produce robots. Our “four-wheeled robots” – cars – have changed the way people travel and even live. One day when we solve the problem of self-driving cars (i.e., real-world artificial intelligence), we will be able to extend artificial intelligence technology to humanoid robots, which will have a much broader application than cars.
We plan to launch the first prototype of a humanoid robot this year and focus on improving the intelligence of that robot and solving the problem of large-scale production. Thereafter, humanoid robots’ usefulness will increase yearly as production scales up and costs fall. In the future, a home robot may be cheaper than a car. Perhaps in less than a decade, people will be able to buy a robot for their parents as a birthday gift.
It is foreseeable that with the power of robots, we will create an era of extreme abundance of goods and services, where everyone can live a life of abundance. Perhaps the only scarcity that will exist in the future is for us to create ourselves as humans.
In the piece, Musk makes it clear that Tesla plans for the robot to go beyond industrial labor and be used in homes to perform household tasks and even care for the elderly.
Tesla is expected to unveil the first working prototype of its humanoid robot on September 30 at its Tesla AI Day 2.
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Author: Fred Lambert