Elon Musk unveils prototype humanoid robot

This October 1, was held the Tesla AI Day, an annual event during which the firm reveals all its upcoming projects and presents its latest technologies. The opportunity for Elon Musk to bring a bipedal robot on stage to demonstrate the progress his company has made since last year.

Optimus has developed well

If the CEO of Tesla and his employees presented the new features relating to Autopilot and Full Self-Driving, the star of the evening was undoubtedly Bumble C, a prototype version of the Optimus robot, images of which were unveiled during Tesla AI Day 2021.

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For its premiere without any mechanical support, Bumble C walked, waved its hands in the air, and danced briefly. Later in the evening, company employees presented another prototype showing a version very close to the final version of Optimus. His body was fully assembled but not functional yet. Despite this, the robot has moved its hands in order to show the range of motion of its joints, which it will use when it enters service.

Throughout the presentation, videos were also played to demonstrate other capabilities of the robot, such as lifting loads.

Elon Musk on stage with a Robot prototype.

The assembled prototype of Optimus presented at the event. For now, he can’t walk yet. Screenshot: Tesla / YouTube

The role of Autopilot in robot development

The Bumble C prototype is equipped with a 2.3 kilowatt-hour battery, which a Tesla employee says is “ perfect for a full day of work it is also equipped with Wi-Fi and LTE connections. In addition, the Tesla teams focused on a specific aspect of their biped: its link with Autopilot, the suite of advanced features of the driving assistance system offered by the company in its electric vehicles.

Milan Kovac, director of engineering for Autopilot, said the company’s experiences in developing driver assistance systems, particularly computer vision systems, allow the company understand how to operate a humanoid robot in the real world. According to the firm, the development of the robot and that of the Autopilot are linked and will therefore result in efficiency gains in each area.

Eventually, Optimus will be able to pick up objects of various shapes and sizes, and hold small objects in his hands. Tesla hopes to market it for less than $20,000 and according to Elon Musk, it will be as useful in corporate factories as it is for individuals with applications ranging from gardening to cooking.

Musk is very enthusiastic, but be careful

The billionaire did not hide his enthusiasm. He claimed that the humanoid was the ” most important product development we’re doing this year », and predicts that he will have the potential to be « more important than vehicle activity over time “. Already in January, he told Tesla investors that the company’s robot projects eventually had the potential to be bigger than the auto business.

He also believes that Tesla’s know-how in terms of mass production will allow it to deploy Optimus on a large scale. Nevertheless, as noted The Vergewe must remain cautious about the claims of Elon Musk who, in the past, has made grandiose announcements that have not materialized.

Indeed, other companies develop humanoids and are much more advanced than Tesla, like Boston Dynamics and its Atlas robot. However, they claim to be still far from achieving their goal, and do not claim to be on the verge of replacing human work.

Also, it is not certain that the public trusts a robot whose development is linked to that of the Autopilot, while the Tesla driver assistance system is implicated in numerous incidents on the roads.

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