Elon Musk made headlines last year by presenting a dancer dressed in spandex as the model for a new humanoid robot. The robot, named Optimus, was unveiled last week at Tesla AI Day.
“This means a future of abundance, a future where there is no poverty, where you can have whatever you want,” Musk announced. “It really is a fundamental transformation of civilization.”
The robot is made of all Tesla parts and is “designed to be a very capable robot.” It’s expected to cost less than $20,000 and to be manufactured in mass quantities.
A useful robot
Optimus has opposable thumbs and a human-like hand that can move each finger and the thumbs independently. It uses the same autopilot technology the Tesla cars use as its brain. “It’s going to do everything that a human brain does,” the Tesla engineer cheerily claims in the video above.
At the moment, it can’t walk or do much else beyond moving its hands, but the development version of the next iteration of the robot can walk and lift things. There’s not a lot of value to the ability to walk and lift things in most settings; humans already do those things just fine.
“You’ve all seen very impressive humanoid robot demonstrations, and that’s great, but what are they missing?’ Musk asked. “They’re missing a brain—they don’t have the intelligence to navigate the world by themselves.”
We assume that he was talking about Boston Dynamics’ dancing robots, which obviously don’t actually create their own choreography and express their love of music through movement. Neither does Optimus, though.
Optimus didn’t demonstrate an ability to pick, pack, sort, assemble, or indeed to do anything useful at all. The plan is to make this humanoid robot do lots of useful things, and on top of all that to be a buddy.
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