Tesla will branch out from building electric, self-driving cars to produce humanoid robots designed to “eliminate dangerous, repetitive, boring tasks” and respond to voice commands from the owner.
The robot, referred to inside the company as Optimus, will be 173 centimetres tall and weigh 57 kilograms. The body will be powered by 40 electromechanical actuators and the robot’s face will feature a screen display.
Optimus will be able to carry a cargo of up to 20 kilograms and Tesla’s founder Elon Musk claims that a working prototype will be ready next year.
Speaking at the company’s AI Day event, designed to attract engineering and research talent to the company, Musk said that much of the technology in Tesla’s self-driving cars is applicable to or useful in creating humanoid robots.
“Tesla is arguably the world’s biggest robotics company, because our cars are semi-sentient robots on wheels,” he said. “It kind of makes sense to put that on to a humanoid form. We’re also quite good at sensors and factories and actuators.”
Musk said that the machine will be limited to a walking speed of 8 kilometres per hour and will be deliberately weak enough that most humans will be able to overpower it if needed. “You never know,” said Musk, who had suggested earlier in his presentation that general AI was the largest threat currently facing humanity.
The Tesla founder said the robot is still in development but automation will make physical work a choice in the future, which will have profound implications for the economy and require universal basic income as government policy. A human dancer inside a suit was presented at the event to give the audience a flavour of what to expect from the robot.
The company also announced an AI-optimised custom computer chip called D1 which Tesla is using to create a supercomputer called Dojo. This machine is intended to process vast amounts of camera and sensor data from Tesla cars and train the neural networks behind Tesla’s self-driving technology. These improvements and updates can then be sent out to cars around the world via the internet.
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