Elon Musk on Friday presented two prototypes of the humanoid robot Optimus, which his company Tesla plans to one day produce “by the millions” to “transform civilization” and build a “future of plenty” in which poverty will be gone.
“Bumble C,” an early version of the robot, cautiously made its way onto the California stage, home of the electric carmaker’s annual Tesla AI Day conference on the advances in artificial intelligence.
The robot sketched a hand salute, and the video showed it delivering a package to an employee and watering plants.
The staff also introduced a more advanced Optimus prototype that has fewer exposed cables but still cannot walk on its own.
Elon Musk acknowledged that other organizations have developed more sophisticated robots, but “they lack a brain and don’t have the intelligence to move on their own […] And they’re very expensive,” he said.
The Tesla boss is aiming for a robot that will ultimately cost “probably less than $20,000” and be designed to be replicated in “millions of units.” He is counting on the first deliveries within three to five years.
The conference aims to recruit more engineers to achieve this goal and thereby “fundamentally change civilization”.
The multi-billionaire unveiled this project in 2021 for a robot that can perform repetitive tasks instead of humans.
“It means a future of plenty, a future where there is no poverty, where people have what they want in terms of products and services,” said the CEO of SpaceX (rockets) and Neuralink (brain implants), who never predictions stingy with the extraordinary.
“A lot of people think we’re just a cool builder,” but Tesla is also “a leader in artificial intelligence,” assured Elon Musk.
Since the announcement of the humanoid robot, “Musk has faced the doubters,” noted Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives. “The market is focused on battery improvement, new factory production capacity (Berlin, Austin) and competition from all sides for electric cars. Not on humanoid robots”.
The boss is also divided on autonomous vehicles, which he has been promising very soon for years. A California agency filed a lawsuit against Tesla in August, accusing Tesla of lying about these technologies.
But Elon Musk believes he has the best scores in security tests. “You have a moral obligation to deploy (an autonomy system) if it reduces the number of accidents and fatalities,” he said on Friday.
“Even though you’re going to get lawsuits and criticism because the people whose lives you saved don’t know about it, while states know if there was a problem going on autopilot when people occasionally die or get hurt.”
“Execution cat girl”
Elon Musk plans to test Optimus at the company’s California factory to prove its usefulness. He hopes that one day the robot will be “friendly” and that chatting with it will feel “natural”. He also promised security features to avoid a “Terminator-like scenario.”
“Of course there will be a ‘catgirl’ version of our Optimus robot,” the whimsical entrepreneur tweeted during the conference, complete with a photo of a female silhouette from behind camping out in front of a row of metal robots.
He also said twice that it was “essential” that the company building this robot be listed on the stock exchange, “because if the public doesn’t like what Tesla is doing, the public can buy shares and vote differently.”
“It’s very important that I can’t just do whatever I want,” he adds, laughing.
That comment will not go unnoticed in the context of the conflict between him and Twitter and is likely to lead to a high-stakes trial in mid-October.
The richest man in the world signed a deal to take over a social network in the spring before reconsidering his decision in July. The platform is suing him to force him to honor his commitment.
Elon Musk had said he wanted to make Twitter a private (unlisted) company that would be free from any external scrutiny.