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Updated robot Optimus

As part of Investor Day 2023, Tesla presented its latest generation humanoid robot Optimus to the world. Nineteen months after the first announcement, the robot collects things and performs some basic tasks.

Uncharacteristically restrained Elon Musk presented several short videos about the Optimus prototype, noting that back in October last year he had to be rolled out on stage so that he just waved to the audience.

"It's worth bearing in mind that when we held Tesla AI Day 2022, this version of Optimus didn't go at all," Musk said. - So the pace of improvement here is very significant. Of course, he doesn't do parkour, but he walks, and we have several copies of Optimus."

The video shows how Optimus walks - albeit rather slowly compared to the Atlas robot from Boston Dynamics. He also uses his humanoid hands in a sequence in which one robot detaches the Optmus arm from the test bench, picks it up and carries it to the workplace, where another bot is working on a third. With the help of a simple installation, it seems that the first robot holds the hand in place, and the second screws it to the third robot in imitation of production.

With some confidence, we can say that Atlas is the most advanced humanoid robot on the planet, and it has been so for many years. But the context is important here, Boston Dynamics has been working on robots since 1992. She introduced her first humanoid robot PETMAN in 2009, and two years later he demonstrated walking, squatting, kneeling and balancing when pushing. Atlas made his debut in 2013, and it took him 10 years to learn how to dance, do parkour and start performing some basic tasks.

"What Tesla offers that others don't is that we are the most advanced in the field of real AI," Musk said. - Therefore, it is the same AI that drives the car... You can think of a car as a robot on wheels, and this is a robot on its feet. It's not so useful to have a humanoid robot if you have to program its every action. He should be able to walk autonomously and solve problems. You should be able to teach him simple things, showing visually what the robot should do, or just telling him what to do. This is our key advantage."

"We are also good at designing things for production, and production at scale," he continued. - All drives in Optimus are Tesla drives designed to order. We have developed an electric motor, a gearbox, power electronics, obviously, a battery pack, everything else that is included in the Optimus. We were quite surprised to find how little is available from the shelf. There are a huge number of electric motors, gearboxes, etc. in the world, and we found that none of them is suitable for a humanoid robot. Therefore, the same team that developed electric motors, say, for the Model S Plaid, also developed drives for the robot. For practical purposes, this means that we will be able to bring to market a real product on a scale that will be useful, much faster than anyone else."

While this remains to be seen, it is definitely a departure from the Boston Dynamics approach based on research and limited scale commercialization. Tesla has been developing its robot for mass production from the very beginning, and useful enough to become a universal means of saving labor.

"If we assume that what I'm talking about is true, at least it's true, the question is only about the timing, then interesting questions begin," he says. - You can see the home application of robots, certainly the industrial application of humanoid robots. I think we can exceed the ratio of humanoid robots to humans by 1:1... If the economy is the volume of production per person multiplied by the number of people, but if the volume of production is much higher and the number of people is unlimited, then what is the actual limit of the economy? We are still far from the Kardashev scale, but we are getting closer to it."

When Musk was asked if future generations of artificial intelligence combined with humanoid robots could help Tesla overcome the "production hell," he replied that he did not think so, but admitted that even he could be out of work when they could do it.

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