In August 2021, a meme was born, inspired by an employee who dressed as a Tesla robot and busted some sweet moves on stage at the Tesla AI Day presentation event.
While believers were psyched, the naysayers were laughing their heads off, saying “Tesla is building an army of crash-test dummies for the hyperloop” and “Ikea will most likely have self-assembling furniture before this robot sees the light of day.”
People either weren’t impressed, or they genuinely thought that Musk wouldn’t follow through.
A year later, they were proven wrong. At Tesla AI Day 2022, Elon Musk presented a humanoid robot prototype named Optimus that could walk on stage and perform several arm gestures, albeit somewhat clumsily. Competitors promptly voiced their “concerns,” pointing out its dated joint mechanics and unsteady gait.
They failed to notice the most important aspect of the presentation: Optimus is a prototype. And it’s something Tesla
is actively working on, improving it daily.
Critics also failed to give credit to the second part of the presentation, where researches showed the power of implemented AI and how it enables the robot to see the world and differentiate between items that surround it as it performs tasks.
With a price tag of less than $20,000, Optimus could one day change the way we go about our daily lives — we could leave boring, repetitive or dangerous tasks to the robot, while we focus on other things. Knowing Tesla, it will take many iterations and a lot of debugging to reach the final product, but once it gets off the conveyor belt, I will most likely have it in my home.
If you remember, I wrote about the cutting-edge solar array system I will install in my house once it’s built. Tesla Optimus will be another upgrade toward independent and sustainable living I plan to implement.
For starters, the robot will carry heavy stuff. I have a condition that prevents me from lifting or carrying anything heavier than few kilograms, and having someone (or something) to do this for me would be not just useful but also necessary.
In addition to several raised garden beds that will be operated by a CNC gardening robot (FarmBot is my favorite), we will also have “old-fashioned” patches that need to be tilled, fertilized and planted manually. Optimus could take over these tasks and later help in my 3D-printing/replicating workshop (another topic I want to cover). Housekeeping chores are also something the robot could be used for, but that would depend on its agility.
Being “fed” electricity we produce on our own and not much else, Optimus will provide invaluable manpower to our household without monthly expenses that usually accompany human alternatives. However, one important hurdle first needs to be solved: independence. The majority of Tesla devices not only benefit from, but also depend on, internet access. The company uses it to send updates, fix bugs and perform diagnostic checks. Via the Tesla app, users can also control their devices, and I doubt Optimus will be different in this regard.
However, this also means that without an internet connection, the functionality of such devices is impaired. In Optimus’ case, it’s still unclear how much, but it should be able to function independently in the offline mode and retain all functionality. For this to happen, none of the real-time processing should happen in the cloud — it should be centralized and processed locally.
Finally, if something breaks (and things do break), there should be an option to take the poor bot to a local mechanic, or even perform some maintenance on your own instead of being repaired exclusively by Tesla. Looking at how the company treated customers who modified their cars in the past, I find this extremely unlikely to happen.
Still, once the warranty runs out, all bets are off, and I’m sure the internet will be abuzz with home-brewed firmware updates and new feature sets created by a global community of innovators. The same goes for replaceable parts — they will most likely be uploaded to the internet, so they could be 3D-printed or ordered from third parties.
So, we’re in for an exciting future. Once Optimus hits the market and I am able to purchase it, you will be the first to know. But that’s me — what about you?