"Our goal is to make a humanoid robot as quickly as possible."
Tesla isn't your average vehicle manufacturer. Piloted by the eccentric Elon Musk, the company has always done things differently. From the rear falcon doors found on the Model X to the latest Cybertruck claims, there's nothing conventional about the brand. This is evidenced by Tesla's latest reveal, the "Optimus" robot.
Unveiled at Tesla's AI Day, Musk introduced the working prototype to an eager crowd. Like something out of Black Mirror, the human-like robot walked onto the stage with slow, calculated steps. Musk joked that the robot can do more than move its limbs. "The robot can do a lot more than what we showed you, we just didn't want it to fall on its face."
A video shows the robot walking about an office, and performing tasks such as watering plants and moving packages. It should weigh around 161 lbs and glean energy from a 2.3-kWh battery.
The company already has a model (Optimus one) that has been designed to look like the production version. Like a human, the artificial intelligence robot has two hands with opposable thumbs. This, says Musk, will allow it to use tools and operate certain types of machinery. "Our goal is to make a useful humanoid robot as quickly as possible."
However, this second version is merely a design and cannot walk. Amusingly, it had to be carried out by Tesla employees.
If you're wondering how much this technology will cost, the billionaire CEO says it should be priced below $20,000. "The potential for Optimus is appreciated by very few people...I think we want to have fun versions of Optimus. [It] can both be utilitarian and do tasks, but can also be like a friend and a buddy, and hang out with you."
Musk has previously said Optimus production could commence as soon as 2023, but the CEO admits there's still plenty of development work to complete. "There's still a lot of work to be done to refine Optimus and prove it," he noted. "Optimus is designed to be a very capable robot made in very high volume - ultimately millions of units."
Experts and analysts have expressed concern over artificial intelligence as a whole, fearing that the technology may endanger humanity. Musk himself has warned against the dangers of AI, once referring to the technology as a "fundamental existential risk for human civilization." It appears the CEO has gotten over his fears, though.
In 2018, Musk and his company were ridiculed when the automaker announced its AI intentions. For some bizarre reason a human, dressed in a white spandex suit, moved around like a robot before Musk made his speech.
According to the BBC, financial experts and investors aren't too pleased with Tesla's focus on robotics. Many have advised the automaker to focus on what it knows best - electric vehicles and related technologies. We've previously expressed concern over Tesla's apparent inability to complete a project before, and this is clear to see when you look at the company's history.
Tesla isn't the only car company working on robots, though. Hyundai has already created dog-like robots that assist with menial tasks in factories. Only time will tell whether Musk follows through on his AI promises, but we jut hope the aforementioned Cybertruck and Roadster arrive before Optimus.