Elon Musk presents Tesla’s ambitious humanoid robot
“Bumble C,” an early version of the robot, arrived gingerly onto the California stage where the electric carmaker’s annual “Tesla AI Day” conference on advances in artificial intelligence was taking place.
Bumble C, sketched a hand salute, and a video showed him bringing a package to an employee and watering plants.
Employees from Elon Musk’s group also brought a more advanced prototype of Optimus on wheels, with fewer exposed wires, but still unable to walk on its own.
The whimsical billionaire Elon Musk acknowledged that other organizations had designed more sophisticated robots, but “they lack a brain, and they don’t have the intelligence to move on their own (…), And they are costly,” he said.
Elon Musk’s ambition is a robot that will eventually cost “probably less than 20,000 USD” and will be designed to be replicated in “millions of units.” He is betting on the first deliveries in three to five years.
The conference should serve to recruit more engineers to achieve this goal and thus “fundamentally transform civilization.”
Elon Musk presented, in 2021, this project of a robot that can perform repetitive tasks in place of humans.
“This means a future of abundance, a future where there is no poverty, where people will have what they want in terms of products and services,” detailed the boss of SpaceX (rockets) and Neuralink (brain implants), never stingy in extraordinary predictions.
“Many people think we are just a cool manufacturer,” but Tesla is also “the leader in artificial intelligence,” assured Elon Musk.
With the launch of the humanoid robot, “Musk is facing the skeptics,” noted Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives. “The market is focused on improving batteries, on production capacities of new factories (Berlin, Austin) and competition from all sides for electric cars. Not on humanoid robots.”
Elon Musk also divides on autonomous vehicles, which he has been promising for years. A Californian agency filed a complaint in August against Tesla, accusing it of lying about these technologies.
On top of everything else, the billionaire believes he has the highest scores on safety tests. “You have a moral obligation to deploy (an autonomy system) if it reduces the number of accidents and deaths,” he asserted Friday, September 30.
“Even though you’re going to get lawsuits and criticism because the people whose lives you saved don’t know about it, whereas when people occasionally die or are injured, states know about it if there was a problem with the autopilot.”
He wants to test Optimus at the group’s California facility to prove its usefulness. He hopes the robot will one day be “friendly” and chatting with it will feel “natural.” He also promised safety features to avoid a “Terminator-like scenario.”
“Naturally, there will be a catgirl version of our Optimus robot,” tweeted the whimsical entrepreneur during the conference, with a photo of a female figure from behind, camped out in front of a line of metal robots.
Elon Musk also said twice that it was “essential” that the company building this robot be listed on the stock market “because if the public doesn’t like what Tesla is doing, the public can buy shares and vote differently.”
“It’s essential that I can’t just do what I want,” he added with a laugh.
The comment will not go unnoticed in the context of his dispute with Twitter, which is set to culminate in a high-stakes trial in mid-October.
Elon Musk signed a deal to buy the social network in the spring before reversing his decision in July. The platform is suing him to force him to honour his commitment.
Elon Musk had said he wanted to make Twitter a private company (not listed on the stock exchange), which would escape any external control.