Tesla unveiled the "Bumble C" prototype during the Tesla AI Day 2022 presentation. (Image Credit: Tesla)
On September 30th, Elon Musk unveiled two Optimus robots during the Tesla AI Day 2022 presentation. Last year, Tesla "had a guy in a suit" but also stated plans to reveal a more impressive prototype this time. According to Musk, interested consumers can purchase Optimus within three to five years for less than $20,000. "Our goal is to make a useful humanoid robot as quickly as possible," Musk said. The robots could assist millions of people but will be deployed in Tesla factories first.
Tesla's goal is to manufacture Tesla Bots by the millions, relying on the same hardware, software, manufacturing, and supply chain developed for the Tesla vehicles. However, we shouldn't look too deeply into this because the company has missed a lot of deadlines.
Musk showcased two robots. The first one, "Bumble C", made of mechanical actuators, moved across the stage, waved, and even performed a "raise the roof" dance move. The Tesla CEO decided to go with a safe approach for this one so it didn't show off many movements and couldn't "fall flat on its face." Then, a video showed the robot performing other tasks, like lifting boxes and watering plants.
The Optimus prototype is close to the robot's final design. (Image Credit: Tesla)
Afterward, Tesla rolled out the second prototype that almost resembles the Optimus bot. In this case, it has a fully assembled body but cannot fully function. This robot's actuators controlled the limbs and fingers, allowing it to wave, lift its leg to the side, and grip using its hands. Musk also said this robot has a battery pack but "wasn't quite ready to walk."
The latest generation bot weighs 73 kilograms and features the same hardware and software tech used in Tesla's advanced driver assistance system Autopilot for its autonomous vehicles. It's trained through a real-world environment to gauge occupancy of nearby areas. Optimus also has a 2.3kWh battery pack, ideal for "a full day's work." The bot consumes 100W of power while sitting and 500W while walking. It's even capable of WiFi and LTE connectivity and runs on a Tesla SoC.
The demonstrations showed data procession for the robot's joints, including the wrists, hands, and knees. Afterward, it searched for common areas to find a technique using six various actuators. Its human-like hands have a "Biologically Inspired Design" to make them ideal for lifting objects of different shapes and sizes, holding a 20-point bag, and precisely gripping small parts. According to Tesla, the bot has over 28 degrees of freedom, and both hands have 11.
Tesla motion recorded humans performing various tasks, such as lifting a box. Optimus can then copy those movements through inverse kinematics. Applying "online motion adaption" keeps the tasks from being too rigid and can change to consider a potential unstructured environment.
In the future, each robot will have an override mechanism, which can't be updated online, allowing humans to stop the bot. Musk said the robots are expected to be "governed by some laws of robotics that you cannot overcome, like not doing harm to others."
Economics is entering a new age with a "future of abundance, a future where there is no poverty, a future where you can have whatever you want in terms of products and services," Musk said. "It really is a fundamental transformation of civilization as we know it."
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