Tesla’s robot, explained

Elon Musk believes Tesla’s humanoid robot could be “much bigger” than its cars.

For $20k, you could soon have your very own humanoid robot, courtesy of Elon Musk.

Tesla’s robot, explained

The Tesla founder revealed Optimus, a robot equipped with some of the same sensors and AI software as Tesla’s cars, at the company’s 2022 AI Day event.

Why is Tesla building a robot?

The plan is for Tesla to start using Optimus in its own factories, then roll it out to consumers for household applications.

Consumer robots aren’t exactly a new idea:

  • Amazon unveiled Astro, a household robot designed for home monitoring, in 2021 but has yet to release it for mass consumption.
  • iRobot’s Roomba vacuum is perhaps the most successful consumer robot of all time, a big reason why Amazon acquired the company for $1.7B in August.

Besides toys and vacuums, robots have yet to live up to the hype. But Musk is bullish, calling Optimus “the most important product development we’re doing this year,” claiming future applications could include cooking and gardening.

But Optimus has a long way to go

Musk’s team brought multiple prototypes on stage; one danced and another waved — impressive feats of engineering, but well short of emptying the dishwasher.

  • Critics argue that Boston Dynamics’ robots are much further along. The company’s humanoid robot, Atlas, can do backflips.

But Musk claims Tesla’s advantage is that its robots are made for mass production — meaning, if successful, we could soon have an actual robot army on our hands.

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