TECHNOLOGY – “A future of abundance, a future where there is no poverty, where people will have what they want in terms of products and services”. Elon Musk doesn’t just produce electric cars, rockets or brain implants, he also wants “transform civilization” thanks to robotics. In addition to Tesla, SpaceX and Neuralink, it also intends to become “the leader in artificial intelligence”.
This Friday, September 30, the multi-billionaire presented with great fanfare two prototypes of the humanoid robot Optimus, which his company Tesla hopes to produce one day by “millions”. “Bumble C”a first version of the robot, arrived while walking cautiously on the California stage where the annual conference was taking place “Tesla AI Day” about the electric car maker’s advancements in artificial intelligence.
The robot sketched a hand salute and video showed it bringing a package to an employee and watering plants. Employees also rolled out a more advanced Optimus prototype, with fewer exposed cables but still unable to walk on its own.
Tesla Bot walking progress – modeled inside Autopilot sim https://t.co/WCrXDFel3t
Elon Musk acknowledged that other organizations have designed more sophisticated robots, but “they lack a brain and they do not have the necessary intelligence to move on their own (…) And they are very expensive”, he said. The boss of Tesla aims for a robot which, in time, will cost “probably less than $20,000”and will be designed to be replicated in “millions of units”. He is betting on first deliveries within three to five years.
The conference should be used to recruit more engineers to achieve this goal, and so “fundamentally transform civilization”. The multi-billionaire presented in 2021 this project for a robot that can perform repetitive tasks instead of humans.
Elon Musk plans to test Optimus in the group’s California factory to prove its usefulness. He hopes the robot will one day be ” friendly “ and that arguing with him will seem ” natural “. He also promised security features, to avoid a “Terminator scenario”.
“Of course there will be a ‘catgirl’ version of our robot Optimus”tweeted the whimsical entrepreneur during the conference, with the photo of a female silhouette from behind, camped in front of a line of metal robots.
He also declared, on two occasions, that he was ” essential “ that the company building this robot is listed on the stock exchange, “because if the public doesn’t like what Tesla is doing, the public can buy stock and vote differently”. “It’s very important that I can’t just do what I want”, he added with a laugh. This comment will not go unnoticed in the context of the conflict between him and Twitter, and should lead to a high-stakes trial in mid-October.
The richest man in the world signed a social network takeover contract in the spring, before reconsidering his decision in July. The platform is suing him to force him to honor his commitment. Since the announcement of the humanoid robot, “Musk faces the doubters”noted analyst Dan Ives of Wedbush Securities. “The market is focused on improving batteries, on the production capacities of new factories (Berlin, Austin) and on competition from all sides for electric cars. Not on humanoid robots”.
The boss is also divided on autonomous vehicles, which he has been promising very soon for years. A Californian agency filed a complaint in August against Tesla, accusing it of lying about these technologies. But Elon Musk believes he has the best scores in security tests. “You have a moral obligation to deploy (an autonomy system) if it reduces the number of accidents and fatalities”he said on Friday.
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