Tesla CEO Elon Musk showed off Friday the prototype of humanoid robot Optimus – developed in February – at the electric vehicle maker’s AI Day event at a Tesla office in Palo Alto, California.
Noting that there’s still a lot of work to be done to refine Optimus and prove it, Musk predicted that Tesla would be able to produce millions of them and sell them for under $20,000 each, which is less than a third of the price of a Model Y.
Optimus prototype, which was walked out to wave at the crowd on Friday, can also do simple tasks, such as watering plants, carrying boxes, and lifting metal bars at a production station at the company’s California plant, as videos Tesla presented have shown.
According to Musk, Optimus – an allusion to the powerful and benevolent leader of the Autobots in the Transformers- would initially perform dangerous or boring jobs, such as moving parts around Tesla factories.
Robots in the future, as Musk has said, could be used in homes – making dinners, mowing the lawn, and caring for the elderly – or even becoming a buddy or a sex partner for humans.
Although he singled out Optimus to be an “extremely capable robot”, Musk said that existing humanoid robots are “missing a brain” and the ability to solve problems on their own.
Musk, who is hoping to expand beyond self-driving cars that have not yet become a reality despite his repeated promises, noted that a robot business will be worth more than its cars. He acknowledged, however, that there’s a lot of work to be done to achieve the goal of a mass-produced, low-cost robot that would be capable of replacing humans at work.
The billionaire, who has spoken before about the risks of AI, has underscored that the mass rollout of robots has the potential to transform civilization.
During the event, the company presented the next-generation Tesla bot that will use Tesla-designed components, including a 2.3 kWh battery pack in its torso, a chip system, and actuators to drive its limbs.
Tesla staff rolled the Tesla bot, designed to weigh 73 kg, on stage with Musk noting that the bot wasn’t quite ready to walk but might be in a few weeks.