Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, recently stated that the company’s objective of developing a humanoid robot is the most important thing it is working on.
Last year, the electric vehicle company disclosed its robot aspirations during its AI Day. However, instead of displaying a prototype, a person dressed in a robot costume walked stiffly onto the stage and began to dance, spin, and pretend to jump rope. “Obviously, that was not real,” Musk said to the crowd after their robot performance.
Musk also stated that its upcoming robot “has the potential to be more substantial than the vehicle business over time.”
Musk and Tesla also stated that the long-awaited Cybertruck, Roadster, and Semi would not be available this year. The stock dropped the following day, and while it was down roughly 6% by midday, he stated in a tweet that the robot could transform the economy and create trillions of dollars in value.
However, robotics and car production experts warn that humanoid robots are expensive, difficult to create, and unlikely to significantly impact the industry in the near term. Moreover, even in the most controlled situations, such as factories, where robots are most successful, a meaningful and rapid contribution is difficult to maintain. And navigating other environments, such as a person’s house, will be even more difficult for robots.
Tesla has yet to reveal a humanoid robot prototype. However, Musk said that Tesla would spend this year working on engineering and tooling for a robot dubbed “Optimus.”
Tesla claims the robot will reach 5 feet 8 inches tall, weigh 125 pounds, and be capable of carrying 45 pounds.
Robots are extensively employed in the automotive industry to assist in pressing metal into parts, welding the vehicle together, and painting it. Humanoid robots with two arms and legs, on the other hand, are not employed. Putting a nut on a bolt, for example, is extremely tough for robots. However, Musk has previously stated that “excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake” and “humans are underrated.”
Tesla is not the only manufacturer with interest in humanoid robotics. Honda spent over 20 years developing a series of robots known as “Asimo” before discontinuing development in 2018, and Hyundai purchased Boston Dynamics in 2020.
Tesla revealed that it would not be delivering any Cybertrucks, Semis, or Roadsters this year, even though these cars have been long anticipated by customers and were initially scheduled to go into production in 2021, 2019, and 2020, respectively.