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Musk Reveals "Optimus" Tesla Robot, But Some Folks Aren't Impressed

Musk said he wants to build millions of robots and sell them for around $20,000.

author

Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

clockOct 3 2022, 11:23 UTC
An artist impression of the Tesla Robot called "Optimus" standing Infront of a black background.
An artist impression of the Tesla Robot "Optimus," which looks slightly different to the model revealed recently. Image credit: Tesla

Tesla boss Elon Musk has revealed the company’s humanoid robot after a lot of hype. Just before “Optimus” shuffled out on stage and awkwardly waved, the billionaire assured the crowd that it wasn't just a guy in a spandex suit like their last event. Nevertheless, some experts remained unimpressed.

Optimus was presented in the first 45 minutes of the Tesla AI Day 2022 on Friday, with Musk and a bunch of engineers discussing the robot’s software and hardware, as well as where they plan on venturing with the project next.

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"I do want to set some expectations in regards to our Optimus robot. As you know, last year it was just a person in a robot suit, but we’ve come a long way. Compared to that, it’s going to be very impressive,” Musk said at the event.

Once the robot initially walked onto the stage, it was then hidden behind a screen, only to re-emerge with a frame to ensure it didn’t fall over. 

Musk conceded that the Tesla bot doesn’t move with the same fluidity and realism as other cutting-edge humanoid robots, such as the backflipping bots produced by Boston Dynamics.

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However, he suggested that Tesla is aiming for something a little bit different. Instead of gymnastic grace, the company says they’re more interested in the brain behind the bot and artificial general intelligence.

“You’ve all seen very impressive humanoid robot demonstrations – and that's great – but what are they missing? They're missing a brain. They don't have the intelligence to navigate the world by themselves,” added Musk.

Furthermore, Tesla claims to be making this technology scalable and widely accessible for many people. 

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“They’re also very expensive and made in low volume. Optimus is designed to be an extremely capable robot but made in very high volume. Ultimately millions of units. It's expected to cost much less than a car. Probably less than $20,000 would be my guess,” he continued. 

However, not everyone was blown away by the grand reveal. A number of researchers took to Twitter to vent their anger at, what they saw as, the sensational fanfare that surrounded the ultimately unimpressive robot.

“This Tesla AI day is next-level cringeworthy. Complete and utter scam. Who on earth believes this bullshit anymore?,” tweeted AI researcher Filip Piekniewski.

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“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. What they've shown was a lame robotic demo and they bragged about ‘solving’ what everyone in the field already ‘solved’ years ago, and didn't mention a word about any actual progress in solving the stuff nobody yet solved,” Piekniewski said in a later tweet.

“I love all the buzz words. Neural networks. Synthetic data. Inference engine. Haven't heard anything novel yet,” Cynthia Yeung, robotics engineer and Head of Product for Plus One Robotics, said in a Twitter thread.

“None of this is cutting edge. Hire some PhDs and go to some robotics conferences @Tesla,” Yeung added.


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  • Elon Musk,

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  • AI,

  • humanoid robot

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