News hardware Tesla humanoid robots should soon replace workers, the dream of Elon Musk
We already knew that Tesla is hard at work on its humanoid robot, Optimus. Except that in the collective imagination, we imagined Optimus as a personal home assistant, not as a factory worker. However, this has just been made official by Tesla. A new dream of Elon Musk is close to realization.
The Optimus project already well advanced: Tesla robots are Elon Musk’s priority
The cyberpunk fantasy of the humanoid robot at the service of flesh-and-blood humans is omnipresent in Elon Musk’s head. The billionaire intends to give everything to realize this dream in a very short time.
At first glance, considering Tesla as a builder of humanoid robots may seem absurd. When one is interested in the question, everything makes sense.
As you know, Tesla is first and foremost a car manufacturer. Yes, but here it is Tesla’s vehicles are premium electric cars…and smart. The autopilot of self-driving cars is getting better and better thanks to the investments of tech giants in the artificial intelligence (AI) sector. This expertise can be used elsewhere.
Until now, Tesla was expanding its business line only through its subsidiary Tesla Energy. The renewable energy sector, here solar, is a logical market for a company that wants as many people as possible to have access to electric cars, which are particularly energy-intensive. Tesla is working on car chargers around the world, the batteries that go with them…and the energy that will flow through those batteries.
After energy, robotics is a logical continuation. Tesla designs advanced materials and software for its electric cars, the company is actually already an expert in robotics.
The “Tesla Bot”, now called Optimus, was revealed to us just over a year ago, in the middle of summer 2021. It was Elon Musk himself who presented the project: a domestic robot 1 meter and 73 centimeters high.
This announcement was not taken seriously at first. If you know a little about the character that is Elon Musk, you know like us that he is as famous for his fortune and his projects as for his escapades. A domestic robot, it sounds SF, it creates a buzz, people talk about Tesla, the stock goes up on the stock market, Elon Musk gets rich… a very likely pattern.
All the more likely that other extremely competent manufacturers, such as Toyota or Xiaomi for example, are trying or have tried building robots of the same style. Results: dead or unimpressive projects. Over the months, it is clear that the Optimus project is of a completely different caliber.
Tesla is recruiting en masse. Thousands of people are currently working to make this billionaire dream come true. Elon Musk proudly announced it: today, Optimus has become even more of a priority for Tesla than the development of new vehicles.
Here is Tesla’s plan for Optimus:
- First prototype on foot: Right now (it will be unveiled on September 30 on AI Day)
- First release of Optimus: 2023
- General public release: 2024
Thousands of Tesla robots will soon work in factories instead of workers
Elon Musk was crystal clear about the usefulness of Optimus. The humanoid robot should assist people in their daily lives for all kinds of physical activities and strenuous or optional tasks.
Science fiction writers have already prepared (and warned) us about this subject, so much so that we don’t even need to explain it for you to make a mental representation of it. Our imaginations are filled with images of films like Star Wars by George Lucas, novels like the saga of Robots by Isaac Asimov or video games like Detroit Become Human by Quantic Dream.
In the real world, we are still quite far from seeing a C3-PO plugged into the power strip next to the sofa. Making robots as versatile as in our favorite fictions is extremely complex. In its first version, the Tesla Bot will therefore surely be satisfied with simple, repetitive and purely physical tasks… such as factory tasks for example.
A job offer has just been published by Tesla. The multinational is looking for a “Motion Planning Software Engineer” (which could be translated as “Movement planning software engineer”). In this job offer, we can read the following lines, translated by us:
Tesla is on its way to building large-scale humanoid robots to automate repetitive and boring chores. (…) You will see your work being used many times over by thousands of humanoid robots in our factories.
Tesla’s first customer would then be Tesla itself. Then, other factories may be crawling with robots long before the Tesla Bots arrive in our homes. Before assisting our grandparents and taking out the trash in our place, the robots will therefore begin by eliminating the work of thousands of workers.
As often, this subject raises a lot of political, technical or quite simply philosophical questions. Let’s bet it will make a big splash in the near future.