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Tesla plans to unveil ‘Optimus’ humanoid robot in September

Elon Musk’s car company Tesla will unveil its AI humanoid robot called ‘Optimus’ in just three months’ time.

Speaking at Qatar Economic Forum on Tuesday, Musk said a prototype of the robot will be shown off at Tesla’s ‘AI Day’ on September 30.  

Optimus, which was first announced last August, will stand nearly six foot tall, be able to walk at five miles per hour, and deadlift 150 pounds. 

It will be designed to handle ‘dangerous and boring’ tasks in a factory and other settings, although it will be ‘friendly’ and make a ‘very good companion’, like a pet. 

It should be able to handle a range of jobs – from attaching bolts to cars with a wrench, to picking up groceries in shops. 

Previously-released renderings suggest it could look a lot like the ‘NS5’ robots in the 2004 American science fiction action film ‘I, Robot’. 

Elon Musk announced the Tesla bot in August, which would be specifically designed to handle ‘dangerous and boring’ tasks in a factory, but the billionaire also foresees the humanoid as a companion

Pictured: Sonny, the NS5  robot from 2004 science fiction film 'I, Robot', starring Will Smith, that sees intelligent robots fill public service positions in a dystopian world

Pictured: Sonny, the NS5  robot from 2004 science fiction film ‘I, Robot’, starring Will Smith, that sees intelligent robots fill public service positions in a dystopian world

THE OPTIMUS BOT: SPECS 

Height: 5ft 8

Weight: 125lbs 

Carry capacity: 45lbs

Deadlift: 150lbs 

Speed: 5mph 

‘I hope that we will have an interesting prototype to show people,’ Musk said, speaking to British journalist John Micklethwait from a live link-up at the forum, which is taking place in Doha. 

‘We have a very talented team at Tesla that I’m working with closely to have a prototype humanoid robot ready by the end of September. 

‘And I think we are tracking to that point.’ 

The Tesla bot is set to include the Autopilot computer used in the company’s electric cars, which will allow the humanoid to recognise real-world objects, although the robot will have its own customised sensors and actuators.

Tesla’s Autopilot cameras will be fitted in the front of the bot’s head and its inner-workings will be powered by the company’s Full Self-Driving computer.   

Musk, who also owns SpaceX and is the richest person in the world, said there will be ‘other exciting things’ revealed at the AI Day, without giving further details. 

He also touched on job cuts set to take place at Tesla, saying the firm will reduce ‘its salaried workforce roughly 10 per cent over the next three months or so’.   

Tesla first revealed details about Optimus at its AI Day in August last year, along with some digital renderings and specs of what it will look. 

Last August, Musk (pictured) said the bot would be able to handle a range of jobs - from attaching bolts to cars with a wrench, to picking up groceries in shops

Last August, Musk (pictured) said the bot would be able to handle a range of jobs – from attaching bolts to cars with a wrench, to picking up groceries in shops

Musk described it as a factory worker but one that could also make an ‘incredible buddy like R2D2 or C3PO’ for the everyday user in the home.  

‘It could develop a personality over time that is unique. It’s not like all the robots are the same,’ the billionaire said on the Lex Fridman podcast in December.

‘That personality could evolve to match the owner, or whatever you want to call it.’

Musk noted that, unlike killer robots, the Tesla bot could be overpowered by the average human.

He has previously said that Optimus could be launched in 2022 and could address global labour shortages. 

The Tesla bot is set to include the Autopilot computer used in the company's electric cars, which will allow the humanoid to recognised real-world things. But the robot will have its own customised sensors and actuators

The Tesla bot is set to include the Autopilot computer used in the company’s electric cars, which will allow the humanoid to recognised real-world things. But the robot will have its own customised sensors and actuators

Musk pushed back the date of Tesla's AI Day from August 19 to September 30, to give more time for Optimus to be ready

Musk pushed back the date of Tesla’s AI Day from August 19 to September 30, to give more time for Optimus to be ready

AI Day is an event dedicated to displaying the artificial intelligence technologies being worked on at the company. 

Musk told Qatar Economic Forum that Tesla holds such events to ’emphasise that Tesla is a lot more than a car company’. 

‘We are, in my view, the leading real-world AI company that exists.’ 

Musk, in one of his tweets in May, also said that the purpose of the AI day is to ‘convince great AI/software/chip talent to join Tesla’. 

Optimus could make an 'incredible buddy like R2D2 or C3PO' from Star Wars (pictured) for the everyday user in the home

Optimus could make an ‘incredible buddy like R2D2 or C3PO’ from Star Wars (pictured) for the everyday user in the home

Earlier this month, Musk pushed back the date of Tesla’s AI Day from August 19 to September 30, to give more time for Optimus to be ready. 

The Tesla founder has previously warned the world that robots could kill us all in five years – a statement Musk made in 2014.

He has also said artificial intelligence is the ‘biggest risk we face as a civilisation’.  

A TIMELINE OF ELON MUSK’S COMMENTS ON AI

Musk has been a long-standing, and very vocal, condemner of AI technology and the precautions humans should take 

Musk has been a long-standing, and very vocal, condemner of AI technology and the precautions humans should take 

Elon Musk is one of the most prominent names and faces in developing technologies. 

The billionaire entrepreneur heads up SpaceX, Tesla and the Boring company. 

But while he is on the forefront of creating AI technologies, he is also acutely aware of its dangers. 

Here is a comprehensive timeline of all Musk’s premonitions, thoughts and warnings about AI, so far.   

August 2014 – ‘We need to be super careful with AI. Potentially more dangerous than nukes.’ 

October 2014 – ‘I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I were to guess like what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful with the artificial intelligence.’

October 2014 – ‘With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon.’ 

June 2016 – ‘The benign situation with ultra-intelligent AI is that we would be so far below in intelligence we’d be like a pet, or a house cat.’

July 2017 – ‘I think AI is something that is risky at the civilisation level, not merely at the individual risk level, and that’s why it really demands a lot of safety research.’ 

July 2017 – ‘I have exposure to the very most cutting-edge AI and I think people should be really concerned about it.’

July 2017 – ‘I keep sounding the alarm bell but until people see robots going down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react because it seems so ethereal.’

August 2017 –  ‘If you’re not concerned about AI safety, you should be. Vastly more risk than North Korea.’

November 2017 – ‘Maybe there’s a five to 10 percent chance of success [of making AI safe].’

March 2018 – ‘AI is much more dangerous than nukes. So why do we have no regulatory oversight?’ 

April 2018 – ‘[AI is] a very important subject. It’s going to affect our lives in ways we can’t even imagine right now.’

April 2018 – ‘[We could create] an immortal dictator from which we would never escape.’ 

November 2018 – ‘Maybe AI will make me follow it, laugh like a demon & say who’s the pet now.’

September 2019 – ‘If advanced AI (beyond basic bots) hasn’t been applied to manipulate social media, it won’t be long before it is.’

February 2020 – ‘At Tesla, using AI to solve self-driving isn’t just icing on the cake, it the cake.’

July 2020 – ‘We’re headed toward a situation where AI is vastly smarter than humans and I think that time frame is less than five years from now. But that doesn’t mean that everything goes to hell in five years. It just means that things get unstable or weird.’ 

April 2021: ‘A major part of real-world AI has to be solved to make unsupervised, generalized full self-driving work.’

February 2022: ‘We have to solve a huge part of AI just to make cars drive themselves.’ 



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