Elon Musk’s Tesla Robots Could Be Groundbreaking for AI, Automation

  • Tesla is developing a humanoid robot to help with the labor shortage.
  • The Tesla robot will reportedly stand 5’8″ and weigh 125 pounds.
  • Elon Musk thinks that Tesla’s robots could one day outnumber humans and make physical work optional.

In 2021, Elon Musk announced a Tesla humanoid robot named Optimus. It is designed to help reduce the labor shortage, according to Musk, and keep workers safer. This could very well be groundbreaking, however, it still has a long way to go before it is ready for production and available for purchase.

Based on earlier reports, it appears that Optimus will stand in at 5’8″ and weigh 125 pounds. It’ll be able to deadlift more than its entire bodyweight and carry 45 pounds at 5 miles per hour. Noting its maximum lift strength and speed, Musk stated that the limitations weren’t a mistake and were deliberately designed at the physical level, jokingly telling YouTube viewers that “you can run away from it and most likely overpower it” by design.

While some could see these physical limitations as a downside, this could help assuage fears that members of the public might have from watching films like those of the Terminator series and other works of fiction where robots take over the world. However, there will certainly be applications where having a robot able to carry significantly more weight would be useful, for example.

Musk has said that the goal behind the creation of this robot is to take over menial and dangerous tasks from human workers, which would improve safety. Noting his support for a future minimum basic income, he told viewers of Tesla’s AI event in 2021 that this is designed to help end the labor shortage and expressed his desire for a future where “physical work will be a choice.”

Optimus will use Tesla’s Autopilot software connected to eight cameras feeding into its neural network.

The cost of Optimus is unknown at this time, and the same can be said for its eventual release. However, non-working replicas of the robot have been showing up at some Tesla stores and showrooms. 

Last year, the world caught its first glimpse of a semi-functional Optimus robot – and unlike its 2021 debut, it wasn’t a person dancing in a bodysuit. This prototype was able to wave to the crowd live at the company’s AI day, though it was not ready to walk unassisted. In a prerecorded video, Optimus was seen completing chores such as watering a plant and showcasing its lifting ability in a factory setting.

This past March, Musk made waves by predicting that Optimus robots could outnumber humans one day. This year’s update video showed marked improvements, with Optimus able to walk on its own and complete more complex tasks. Musk has plans to eventually put the robot to work in Tesla’s factories and to sell it to the public.