Elon Musk reveals Tesla’s Optimus robot, not a man in a suit this time

3 Oct 2022

The Optimus robot. Image: Tesla

Musk predicted Optimus could be ready for orders in three years and cost less than $20,000, though he admitted there’s still ‘a lot of work to be done’.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has showcased the prototype humanoid robot being developed by the vehicle company.

The Optimus robot walked onto the stage at Tesla’s AI Day presentation and waved its hands to the audience, before turning back. The Tesla team said this was the first time the robot was tested without any “backup support” such as tethers or cables.

Musk acknowledged that the robot concept unveiled at last year’s AI event was “just a person in a robot suit”, but said the company has “come a long way” since then.

He added the robot can do “a lot more than we showed you”, but the team did not want it to make too many moves and “fall flat on its face”. A video was unveiled showing the robot performing basic tasks such as carrying boxes and watering plants.

The robot seen walking on stage was partially deconstructed, with much of its internal wiring still visible. Shortly after, a fully constructed robot was wheeled onto stage by several staff members, with the robot waving once.

At the event, Musk said the goal is to make a “useful humanoid robot as quickly as possible” – something that will likely come with challenges.

The Tesla CEO said the Optimus was designed “for manufacturing”.

“The Optimus is designed to be an extremely capable robot, but made in very high volume, probably ultimately millions of units and it is expected to cost much less than a car,” he added.

Musk predicted that the robot would cost “less than $20,000” as Optimus was wheeled off stage, adding that Tesla could take orders for the robot in three to five years.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done to refine Optimus and improve it,” Musk said. “I think Optimus is going to be incredible in five or 10 years, like mind blowing,”

Musk, who has previously warned of the dangers AI poses, said Tesla is also building safeguards in Optimus such as a stop button that can’t be tampered with.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic