An early prototype of Tesla Inc.’s proposed Optimus humanoid robot walked slowly and awkwardly across a stage, folded, and waved to an enthusiastic crowd at the company’s artificial intelligence event on Friday.
But the original work by robots with exposed wires and electronics — as well as a later, next-generation version to be carried on stage by three men — was a long way from CEO Elon Musk’s vision of a human-like robot that could transform World.
Musk told the crowd, many of whom may be hired by Tesla, that the robot could do a lot more than the audience saw on Friday. He added that it is also fragile and “we didn’t want it to fall on its face.”
Musk suggested that the problem with flashy robot demonstrations is that the robots are “missing from mind” and do not have the intelligence to navigate themselves, but he provided little evidence Friday that Optimus could be used for robots developed by other companies and researchers. was more intelligent than ,
The demo didn’t impress AI researcher Philip Pycnewski, who tweeted that it was “next-level serious” and a “complete and complete scam.” He added that “it would be nice to do a fall test, because this thing will fall a lot.”
“None of this is cutting edge,” tweeted robotics expert Cynthia Yeung. “Hire some PhDs and go to some robotics conference Tesla.”
Young also questioned why Tesla chose to have its robots with a human-like hand with five fingers, noting that “there is a reason” warehouse robots developed by startup firms with two or three fingers or vacuum-based grippers. With the use of pinchers.
Musk said Friday night was the first time the early robot went on stage without a Tether. Tesla’s goal, he said, is to build “extremely capable” robots in high quantities — possibly millions of them — at a price that could be less than a car, which he estimated would cost less than $20,000.
Tesla showed off a video of the robot, which uses the artificial intelligence that Tesla is testing in its “full self-driving” vehicles, carrying boxes and displaying a metal bar as a factory machine . But there was no live demonstration of the robot completing the tasks.
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Employees told viewers in Palo Alto, Calif., as well as via livestream, that they’ve been working on Optimus for six to eight months. People can probably buy Optimus “within three to five years,” Musk said.
Employees said the Optimus robot would have four fingers and one thumb with a tendon-like system to achieve the dexterity of humans.
The robot is backed by giant artificial intelligence computers that track millions of video frames from “full self-driving” autos. Similar computers will be used to teach the robots the task, he said.
Experts in the robotics field were skeptical that Tesla was anywhere close to rolling out human-like household robots that could do the “useful things” Musk would like them to do — say, cook dinner, mow the lawn. Let’s look at one, old grandmother.
“When you’re trying to develop a robot that’s both affordable and useful, the size and shape of a humanoid type isn’t the best approach,” said Tom Raiden, executive director of nonprofit startup incubator Mass Robotics.
Tesla isn’t the first car company to experiment with humanoid robots.
Honda unveiled the Asimo more than two decades ago, which resembled a life-sized space suit and was shown in a carefully orchestrated demonstration to be able to pour liquid into a cup. Hyundai also has a collection of humanoid and animal-like robots through its 2021 acquisition of robotics firm Boston Dynamics. Ford has partnered with Oregon startup Agility Robotics, which makes robots with two legs and two arms that can walk and pick up packages.
Raiden said the carmaker’s research into humanoid robotics could potentially lead to machines that can walk, climb and traverse obstacles, but impressive demonstrations from the past have not led to a “real use scenario”. Which lives up to the hype.
“They have a lot to learn from understanding the way humanoids work,” he said. “But in terms of being directly humanoid as a product, I’m not sure it’s going to come out anytime soon.”
Critics also said years ago that Musk and Tesla would not be able to build a profitable new car company that used batteries for electricity instead of gasoline.
Tesla is testing “full self-driving” vehicles on public roads, but they must be monitored by select owners who must be prepared to intervene at all times. The company says it has about 160,000 vehicles equipped with the test software on the road today.
Critics say Tesla, which relies on cameras and powerful computers to drive itself, doesn’t have enough sensors to drive safely. Tesla’s less capable Autopilot driver-assist system, with the same camera sensor, is under investigation by US safety regulators for repeatedly driving in emergency vehicles with no reason to brake and parked flashing lights along freeways .
In 2019, Musk promised that a fleet of autonomous robotaxis would be in use by the end of 2020. They are still being tested.