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Is The Tesla Optimus Real?


In August 2021, TESLA announced they would be building a humanoid robot — the TESLA OPTIMUS BOT.

The real reason for doing so may be different to the publicly announced reason:

«Tesla is arguably the worlds largest robotics company. because our cars are semi-sentient robots on wheels. neural nets recognising the world, understanding how to navigate through the world. it kinda makes sense to put that on to a humanoid form.» [Elon Musk, Aug 2021]

TESLA BOT Announcement August 2021

Arguably, the TESLA BOT has already earned TESLA a few additional column inches in media (this included) so there is presumably a PR angle in this as well.

The first version of the TESLA Optimus Bot was revealed at TESLA’s AI DAY in September 2022.

TESLA AI DAY Presentation

The robot underwhelmed fantastically. However, in some way, perhaps the TESLA engineers should be given kudos for spinning up a free standing humanoid in only 12 or 13 months since the public announcement.

That is, of course, unless TESLA has actually been working on the robot for much longer without doing any public announcements.

In terms of its functionality — Optimus looked and felt like an advanced student project where open source had been utilised. Yes, the shape and design looked like a few designers had been involved.

The movements, such as the handwaving at the audience was equally underwhelming. it was super slow. almost, just almost, painful to watch.

Why are we left wanting?

STIQ expected a bit more from a TESLA humanoid robot named Optimus (as in «Optimus Prime» — remember, the Transformers?).

Are pilots locked in the cockpit?

The version that was released did not feel like a product that should have been released. It most likely left a lot of people amazed, but if you have seen the many humanoids available, Optimus was definitely simply one of many attempts.

Yes, there are plenty of humanoid robots in existence, perhaps some of the first and more advanced for their day were revealed by Honda — another car manufacturer (or «mobility company» as some LinkedIn members pointed out recently).

Honda (or one of their R&D subsidiaries) started developing humanoid robots in 1986 (source) and publicly revealed a few versions from 1993 onwards.

Although Asimo by Honda uses far more plastics, its movements are not far removed from Optimus.

ASIMO by Honda’s Research & Development Subsidiary (2014)

Digit by Agility Robotics (backed by Amazon’s industrial investment fund)

Another very well known humanoid robot — Atlas — by Boston Dynamics reached new levels of agility and capabilities with its jumps through hoops and Olympic gold medal level gymnastic performances.

Although, most of Atlas performances where conducted in relatively well controlled environments. Nevertheless, we were stunned to see the level of performance on display in the many videos released by Boston Dynamics.

Note that Boston Dynamics was recently acquired by another car company — Hyundai Motor Group (source). what is the affection for humanoids by car companies (and some mobility vendors)?

Atlas by Boston Dynamics was first unveiled to the public in 2013 (Wikipedia)

How can TESLA compete?

TESLA’s Optimus Bot has the advantage of a founder’s pet project attention and optimistic shareholders. Very few people will probably bet against Elon’s wishes to develop an industrial grade humanoid robot.

What is the average car payment?

Perhaps understanding the real motive for Optimus is more important before analysing how the robot will fare on the open market (STIQ question: Is there even a market for humanoid robots right now?)

Is Optimus simply a PR exercise to showcase how far TESLA has evolved its AI (or AGI) developments? Or, is it a serious attempt at disrupting manufacturing processes?

Perhaps the true answer is somewhere in between.

Great with more Robot action!

Whatever TESLA’s ambitions and intentions with Optimus, the fact they have entered the robotics space can only be a positive for further developments in the sector.

Many other heavyweight companies are promoting making robots easier, such as Nvidia with their new solutions and backing of ROS (open source Robot Operating System).

New Legged Robots report coming?

STIQ has collated a list of about 40 or so manufacturers of legged robots, including humanoids.

Do you want to read a #free report from STIQ on «Legged Robotics»? Let us know!

In the mean time — download some of our free robotics market reports:

  • AGV & AMR Robotics
  • Goods to Person Robotics
  • Passive Exoskeletons

Tesla’s Optimus Robot Can Walk Now, And That’s Just The Start

Tesla bots making more Tesla bots

The world has received another oddly ominous yet interesting look at the humanoid robot Tesla is working on. When Optimus was first shown to the world, it wasn’t actually a robot, but a human in a robot costume demonstrating what Tesla believed it could build. Fast forward to Tesla’s 2022 AI Day, and Tesla’s «rough development» robot was actually made of metal, plastic, and silicone. It walked awkwardly on stage and waved at the audience. The development model was built from third-party parts and actuators — it wasn’t really what Tesla was going for. It also wasn’t the subject of the big announcement.

Can female pilots have long hair?

An Optimus built from in-house parts was the real star of the show, but it wasn’t as far on as the «rough development» build. It could wave at the crowd, but had to be pushed out on stage strapped to a trolley. Musk confirmed Tesla was developing its own parts for the robot, and said it was close to being able to walk. Its first steps were allegedly a few weeks away. Fast forward to Tesla’s 2023 investor day, and we have another glimpse of Optimus. Or rather two of them, Optimi if you will. In a terrifying event that seems to be hinting at a Tesla Bot-based singularity, Optimus #1 picks up a robotic arm from a desk, wanders over, and holds it in place while Optimus #2 bolts it to the body of a third Optimus that is still being assembled. The Optimi then both look at a photo of themselves at work, before walking off toward the camera.

Optimus has come a long way in a short time

Two Tesla Bots looking at a photo of themselves at work

The glimpse of Optimus we’ve just seen at Tesla’s 2023 investor day certainly seems far more advanced than what has been presented previously. If the video is to be believed, Tesla’s independently-built humanoid robot can now walk short distances independently, carry an object at least the size of one of its arms, and use basic tools. Musk was quick to point out that while there was progress, the company was taking things one step at a time. «It’s not doing parkour,» he joked. Numerous actuators are used to help the robot move and balance. According to Musk, nothing in the real world was suited to the task — so Optimus is built with Tesla’s own custom actuators.

Why is Tesla not allowed to have dealerships?

Optimus prototype


Musk went on to claim that his company is «the most advanced in real-world AI,» which is likely to be what powers Optimus’ brain. The billionaire confirmed that the same AI that powers Tesla’s cars will be used to make Optimus function. The AI is also capable of solving problems and learning, according to Musk. «It’s not that useful to have a humanoid robot if you have to program every option,» he pointed out. So it’s possible the bots could be trained to perform a variety of roles once they’re finally unleashed on the world.

Humanoid robots could be a game changer

Tesla bot grabbing a robot arm

Musk has high hopes for Optimus, and seems to wish the project would receive more attention. «It’s probably the least understood part of what we’re doing at Tesla,» he complained during the event. Despite the apparent lack of understanding, humanoid robots like Optimus could have a huge impact on the world. Musk pointed out that GDP is based on the productivity of individual working people in a country, but if you can build a large number of robots to perform work, the world’s economic growth should scale with it. It’s also another way technology could make large numbers of people redundant. Musk talked about the possibility of a one-to-one ratio of robots to humans — or even more than that — becoming a reality one day in the future.

Optimus building Optimus


Despite the robots apparently being able to assemble other robots like them, the world may not end at the hands of one of Elon Musk’s brain bursts. The billionaire, who has previously warned about the dangers of AI, seems to have implemented a number of safeguards into the design of the Tesla bot. It is only capable of moving at five miles per hour, deadlifting 150 pounds, carrying 45 pounds, and it weighs around 125 pounds. Despite the fact it can’t feel pain, the average adult human should be capable of fighting off a Tesla bot should the machines decide to rise up. Or should at least be able to briskly walk away from one.

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