Elon Musk: Tesla shows off humanoid Optimus robot in spine-tingling new video

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If you’re wondering how long it’ll take before you can offload the dishes to a trusty butler-bot, luck might just be on your side.

Tesla has released another teaser of its humanoid robot project showcasing its latest capabilities in a spine-tingling video.

While some may baulk at the robot’s eerily precise hand movements and balance, Elon Musk believes they represent a crucial stepping stone in the development of advanced consumer products.

The robot, which Musk believes will some day complete chores for everyday human beings, can perform set tasks without external input, using sensors and built-in cameras to recognise its limbs and move its hands in a human-like manner.

The video demonstrates the robot’s ability to perform independent self-calibration before starting tasks. Self-calibration involves the robot scanning its immediate environment, judging distances from objects and adjusting its behaviour accordingly.

The video reveals another fundamental step in the decades-long development of autonomous robots. However, it is still unclear what safety checks would need to be performed before the machine is rolled out into the public.

The robot can now recognise objects, such as different coloured blocks, adapt to changing circumstances, and even correct its own mistakes.

It accomplishes these tasks through its end-to-end neural network, which takes input from its sensors and directs its movements without human intervention.

Tesla’s decision to work on a humanoid robot project alongside its automotive endeavours is driven by the industry’s need for intelligent self-awareness, which is essential for both self-driving vehicles and humanoid robots.

Musk has placed a great deal of faith in Optimus for the future, claiming that a majority of Tesla’s value will be generated by the humanoid robot in years to come.

The billionaire businessman has already suggested building robots capable of assisting police, posting an image of Optimus alongside a picture of the NYPD’s latest robotic addition to the force.

The project, initially met with scepticism upon its reveal in 2021, has made meaningful progress and holds promise for future developments in AI and robotics.

Musk had made no secret of his plans to “make a useful humanoid robot as quickly as possible”.

“We’ve also designed it using the same discipline we use in designing the car, which is to say, to design it for manufacturing such that it’s possible to make the robot in high volume at low cost,” he said.

“That’s incredibly important because we’ve all seen very impressive humanoid robot demonstrations, and that’s great, but what are they missing? They’re missing a brain, they don’t have the intelligence to navigate the world by themselves, and they’re also very expensive and made in low volume.”

Musk said Optimus, on the other hand, was “designed to be an extremely capable robot, but made in very high volume, probably ultimately millions of units, and it’s expected to cost much less than a car”.

“I would say probably less than $US20,000 would be my guess,” he said.

Musk first explained the idea for the I, Robot-like machines at last year’s AI Day, saying that they are designed to work closely with both humans and other machines to accomplish tasks.

Early diagrams revealed that Optimus would have a display screen on its “face” and five-fingered hands with dexterity akin to a real person’s.

The bots will be equipped with a version of Tesla’s autonomous navigation system found in its cars, where several camera systems work together to identify and clear obstacles. Optimus will also be able to respond to instructions like “please go to the store and get me the following groceries”, Musk said earlier.

The Tesla chief executive even said that the robots would have a personality, which he described as “friendly”.

He added that, despite concerns spurred by sci-fi films, the robots are harmless. They are designed with a top speed of 5mph (8km/h) “so you can run away from it and most likely overpower it”, Musk said.

Tesla plans to deploy the worker-bee bots on its floors first as a proof of concept, before looking to sell the machines elsewhere.

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