Elon Musk Faces Skeptics As Tesla Gets Ready To Unveil ‘Optimus’ Robot

Elon Musk Faces Skepticism as Tesla Gets Ready to Launch Robot 'Optimus'

Robotic arms assemble Tesla’s Model S sedan at the company’s California plant.

San Francisco:

Tesla CEO Elon Musk blamed overcompliance on factory robots for sending the electric car maker to “production hell” four years ago, saying humans are better at it. certain jobs.

My times have changed.

Musk’s Texas company now plans to deploy thousands of humanoid robots, called Tesla Bots or Optimus, in its factories, which will eventually expand to millions of people around the world, according to reports. job postings. Buzz is building up the company internally as Tesla is having more internal meetings about robotics, said a person familiar with the matter.

In the long term, Musk said at TED Talks, robots could be used in homes, make dinners, mow lawns and take care of the elderly, even becoming “best friends” or “girls”.

According to Musk, the robotics business could ultimately be worth more than the car sales of Tesla, who is now laying out a vision for the company that goes beyond making self-driving electric cars.

At “AI Day” on September 30, Musk said Tesla will unveil a prototype from their project Optimus, an allusion to the powerful and benevolent leader of the Autobots in the Transformers franchise. Production could begin next year, he said.

Tesla faces skepticism that it can show technological advances that could justify the cost of “general purpose” robots in factories, homes and other places, according to robotics experts. , investors and analysts interviewed by Reuters.

Tesla already uses hundreds of robots designed for specific jobs to manufacture its cars.

Humanoid robots have been developed for decades by Honda Motor Co and the Boston Dynamics unit of Hyundai Motor Co. Like self-driving cars, robots have trouble with unpredictable situations.

Shaun Azimi, NASA’s Ingenious Robotics team leader, told Reuters: “Self-driving cars haven’t really proven to be as easy as people think. And it’s the same way with humanoid robots.”

“If something unexpected happens, it’s very difficult to be flexible and robust about those kinds of changes.”

At an “Autonomy” event in 2019, Musk promised 1 million robots by 2020 but has yet to deliver such a vehicle.

Experts say Musk’s robots can demonstrate basic capabilities at the event, but it will be difficult for them to impress the public’s expectations of robots with human-like capabilities.

Nancy Cooke, a professor of human systems engineering at Arizona State University in the US, said that to be successful, Tesla will need to show robots that perform a variety of actions that need no description. Such evidence could provide a boost to Tesla stock, which is down 25% from its 2021 peak.

“If he just lets the robot go around or he lets the robot jump, that’s done. That’s not very impressive,” she said.

Tesla did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment, but Musk has in the past proven skeptics wrong by starting the electric car market and building a rocket company, SpaceX, despite several products. Product launch was behind schedule.

In-house expertise

Initially, Optimus will perform boring or dangerous jobs, including moving parts around its factories, according to Musk.

Musk admits that humanoid robots don’t have the intelligence to navigate the real world without clear instructions.

But he said Tesla can leverage its expertise in AI and key components to develop and manufacture less expensive, intelligent humanoid robots on a large scale.

Tesla is hiring a lot of people to work on the humanoid bicycle robot, with about 20 vacancies posted on “Tesla Bot” including jobs designing key robotic parts like “actuators”.

“The code you will write will be run in the short term on millions of humanoid robots around the world, and will therefore be subject to high quality standards,” says one of the job postings.

Tesla has more than 2 million vehicles on the road.

Jonathan Hurst, chief technology officer of Agility Robotics, a humanoid robotics company founded in 2015, says the technology is “now starting to hit the corner”.

“Certainly, an important measure of success is whether they make money from it,” he told Reuters, referring to Tesla’s humanoid robot efforts.

Human help

Analysts see more contests than products. “It’s all part of distracting people and giving them the next shiny object to chase,” said Guidehouse Insights analyst Sam Abuelsamid.

“Investors are not excited about Optimus,” said Gene Munster, managing partner at venture capital firm Loup Ventures, which holds Tesla stock. “The probability is so low that it works on a large scale,” he said, adding that it was “infinitely harder than self-driving cars.”

And then there’s Musk’s own experience with the robot in the factory.

During production in 2018, Musk specifically noted the problems of the “fluff bot,” an assembled robot that can’t perform simple tasks that a human hand can do – pick up pieces of “fluff”. ” and put them in the battery.

He said the cost for technicians to maintain the complex robot far outweighs the cost of hiring people to assemble it.

Aaron Johnson, a mechanical expert is “a humorous example that leads to the view that autonomy often does not generalize well, and that therefore handling of soft materials is unpredictable as a part Rigidity caused a big problem,” said Aaron Johnson, a mechanical expert. engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University, said.

“Human hands do it better,” Musk said.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is automatically generated from the syndication feed.)

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