Tesla's Optimus Robot: A 'high school science project' or a game-changer for robotics?

Tesla’s Optimus Robot: A ‘high school science project’ or a game-changer for robotics?

Tesla’s Optimus robotic bot attracted a lot of attention after the company’s AI event on Friday.

Two upgraded versions of the Optimus robot were shown at Tesla Inc.’s AI Day 2022. The company demonstrated a robot with exposed wires that walked on stage, turned, waved to the audience, and briefly stopped some dance moves. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Inc. , frankly: “A robot can do so much more than we just showed you, we didn’t want it to fall flat on its face.”

The Tesla video also showed the robot performing tasks such as moving boxes and watering the plant.

A newer generation version of Optimus that had to be carried on stage was also shown at the AI ​​Day event. “She wasn’t quite ready to walk, but I think she’ll be walking in a few weeks,” Musk said. “We wanted to show you the robot, which is something fairly close to what will go into production.”

As soon as he got on stage, the robot waved and moved its legs. According to Musk, the robot, which will have the ability to move all of its fingers independently, will have opposing thumbs in both hands, enabling it to operate tools. “Our goal is to make a useful human-like robot as quickly as possible,” he said. “We also designed it using the same discipline we use in vehicle design, which is to design it to manufacture so that it is possible to mass-produce the robot at low cost and high reliability.”

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Musk stressed the importance of this. “You’ve all seen very cool demonstrations of humanoid robots, which are great, but what are they missing?” He said. “They lack a brain – they don’t have the intelligence to navigate the world themselves, and they’re also very expensive and made in low volumes.”

But the fact that the bot had to be implemented provoked disdain from some users on social media.

“Tesla robot could barely stand up on its own and 3 people had to put it up. This looks like a high school science project built in a garage” Tweet embed.

Other users have made unfavorable comparisons between Optimus and robots built by Boston Dynamics, famous for its development of sophisticated (and somewhat unsettling) robotic dogs and humanoid robots. Last year, Hyundai Motor Co., Ltd. Ltd. 005380,
Acquired a controlling stake in Boston Dynamics from SoftBank Group Corp. 9984 Japanese,
+ 1.65%
for $1.1 billion.

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“Honestly, Boston Dynamics must be in hysteria right now,” tweeted James Parham, Creative Director, Brand Licensing at Vox Media.

“I think the potential of Optimus is appreciated by very few people,” Musk said during a Tesla event, before moving the robot behind him to the edge of the stage, amid some laughter. “As usual, Tesla’s demos are coming up hot,” the CEO said sarcastically.

“There is still a lot of work to do to improve and improve Optimus – this is clearly just the first version of Optimus,” Musk added.

Ultimately, the Tesla boss said, millions of Optimus robots could be made, with each costing much less than a car. “I would say maybe less than $20,000, I think.” He expects the robots to be sold to consumers within three to five years.

OpinionA big sell-off in stocks provides a buying opportunity, says manager Barron, who owns 20% of his fund’s assets in Tesla.

So, how important is the movement of the robots to Tesla? Dennis Hong, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UCLA and director of the university’s Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory, says Optimus could be a stepping stone to the future of bolder robotics.

“I’m aware of critics who say the prototype has nothing new they haven’t seen anywhere else, and that there are more and more impressive hominins out there,” he tweeted. “There are also people who have doubts about Elon’s strict schedule, and I don’t necessarily disagree with them.”

“However, I am a true believer in the future with human-like robots and their ultimate applications, and that they will be used in our daily lives ‘someday’ and will make our lives better,” Hong added in a subsequent tweet. “And for that to happen, we need to start somewhere and Project Optimus is exactly that.”

However, the robotics expert is unsure of Tesla’s goal to mass-produce robots.

“Although it can be used in a structured environment in a limited way (perhaps very simple tasks in a very carefully controlled factory?), this particular model still lacks some of the basic navigation and manipulation technologies needed for use in general situations,” he tweeted.

Christian Hobicki, associate professor at Florida State University and director of the university’s Optimization Robotics Laboratory, thinks there are positives to Tesla’s Optimus offering. “Am I blown away? No. Am I laughing? No,” he tweeted.

“First off, the team did a good job. They have come a long way in about a year(?), going from zero to robot from the ground up.” “Also, doing a live demo without the safety rope is braver than people know.”

Tesla appears to be using a method called Zero-Moment Point, which has been around since the 1990s, to make the Optimus walk, according to Hobeki.

“Very safe, but not so amazing in 2022,” he wrote on Twitter.

Tesla shares fell 8.2% Monday, dragged down by the company’s announcement Sunday that it has produced more than 365,000 vehicles and delivered more than 343,000 in the just-ended third quarter. While the number of vehicles delivered is a record for Tesla, it was shy of Wall Street estimates. Analysts were looking for about 371,000 births, according to FactSet data.

S&P 500 SPX Index,
+ 3.01%
It rose 1.9% on Monday.

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