expect humanoid robot Optimus demo

Tesla CEO Elon Musk and leaders of the company’s AI and hardware teams are expected to speak at the company’s AI Day 2022, an engineering recruiting event, which will air on live Friday from 5pm in California. You can see AI Day 2022 here.

During the last AI Day in August 2021, Musk said that Tesla was going to build a humanoid robot, which today is known as the Tesla Bot or Optimus.

“It’s intended to be kind, of course, and to navigate a world of humans and eliminate dangerous, repetitive, boring tasks,” Musk said at the time.

Tesla didn’t have any hardware prototypes to show last year and made the 2021 announcement with an actor dressed in a Tesla Bot suit dancing on stage. The stunt drew sneers from critics and applause from fans.

This year, investors expect an actual technology demonstration of the robot, along with updates on Tesla’s progress in developing self-driving technology that can turn the company’s existing electric vehicles into robotaxis.

Musk has been promising a truly autonomous Tesla since 2016, when he said a coast-to-coast demonstration would take place in late 2017. So far, the company has only released driver assistance systems that must be constantly monitored by a human driver who stays alert to the road and his car, ready to take charge at any moment.

When Musk originally floated the humanoid robot concept at AI Day 2021, Musk said of Optimus: “It should be able to, ‘Please go to the store and get me the next groceries,'” this guy of things”.

Later, Musk said that the robots made by Tesla will one day be worth more than its cars, and that thousands of them will be put to work with moving parts around the factories where humans build cars and batteries.

During Tesla’s Q4 2021 earnings call, Musk commented, “If you think about the economy, the foundation of the economy is labor. Capital equipment is labor distilled lada. What if you don’t really have a labor shortage? I’m not sure what an economy even means at that point. That’s what Optimus is all about, really important.”

Tesla has a mixed record with automation.

As Bernstein senior research analyst Toni Sacconaghi wrote in a Sept. 30 note ahead of AI Day 2022, in 2018 Tesla “had mistakenly tried to hyper-automate its final assembly (that is, putting parts in cars).” The result was that Musk soon admitted that “too much automation at Tesla was a mistake” and “humans are undervalued.”

Tesla brought more people back to its manufacturing and assembly lines after that, but Sacconaghi writes that today Tesla is over-automating its customer service. Tesla owners generally have difficulty contacting individual Tesla sales and service representatives, and are directed to resolve all possible complaints through the Tesla mobile app.

A longtime robotics engineer, Alexander Kernbaum, who now serves as interim director of robotics at the prestigious nonprofit research and development organization SRI International, says that if Tesla impresses with its robotics-to-AI upgrade Day or not, the company has the resources to develop something significant and has inspired new interest in the field.

However, Kernbaum points out, when it comes to creating a robot that can make a difference in a car assembly plant, there’s really no need for Tesla to develop a bipedal robot. “Mobile robots will find uses,” he explains, “but mobility should be as simple as possible for a factory environment, meaning wheels would be the way to go, not legs.”

Robotic legs require a lot of power, for one thing, which would put a strain on whatever battery Tesla develops for its robotics. Also, legged robots, like people, can trip and fall. Robots with wheels would not be as likely to tip over. The security concern should be equivalent to a factory, Kernbaum suggests.

Kernbaum believes Tesla would be best served by focusing on robotic hands. He said: “Hands are like the ultimate multi-tool. Hand dexterity and object manipulation are the big 10-year challenges that will have an obvious impact on all of precision manufacturing and everything really.”

AI Day 2022 will be the company’s first major event since Tesla’s former AI leader Andrej Karpathy stepped down. AI Day precedes Tesla’s third-quarter vehicle production and delivery report expected in a few days.

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