If Elon Musk has his way, we’ll soon only have to work when we really feel like it. To this end, he wants to develop an intelligent Tesla Bot by 2022. It will be based on the same system as the autopilot in Tesla vehicles.
It will be friendly. Carry out commands. And take boring and dangerous tasks off our hands. This is how Elon Musk envisions the Tesla Bot, which he presented last weekend at the Tesla AI Day.
Actually, Tesla’s three-hour AI Day focused on Tesla’s Autopilot and the “Dojo” project, with which Tesla wants to enable a “super-fast” training computer for more complex neural network models.
But at the end of the event, Tesla CEO Elon Musk himself briefly took over the stage to present his latest project, the Tesla Bot. For Musk, developing a robot is the logical next step for Tesla.
From robots on wheels to the Tesla Bot
Tesla is the “largest robotics company in the world,” Musk claimed. That’s because, in principle, Tesla is developing “robots on wheels” with its semi-autonomous electric vehicles.
Bringing the AI-based Autopilot system of the vehicles into human form is therefore only logical, said Musk.
Thus, the Tesla Bot will be equipped with the autopilot system accordingly. This includes, among other things, eight cameras and the full-self-driving computer that drivers are already familiar with from Tesla vehicles.
What we can expect from the Tesla Bot
So the Tesla Bot will basically be the Autopilot system in human form. Elon Musk has already shown how the Tesla Bot can be imagined in concrete terms in the future.
The robot is expected to be about 1.72 meters tall, weigh around 57 kilograms and be able to lift up to 68 kilograms. However, the bot will not be particularly fast. Musk wants to limit its top speed to eight kilometers per hour so that the robot can be “overpowered” if necessary, as Musk quipped.
The “face” is also to be an informative screen. The Tesla Bot is primarily intended to be friendly, Musk assured, and to help people take on boring, repetitive or even dangerous tasks.
The fields of application can be correspondingly diverse and range from industry to private household robots.
The challenge, says Musk, is to design the robot in such a way that it can understand all commands without having to program them sentence by sentence.
In other words, if someone tells his Tesla Bot to buy milk at the supermarket, this must arrive at the bot in the same way as the command: “Buy rolls at the bakery” or “Install this screw in this machine!”
Work becomes voluntary
But Elon Musk seems to have no doubt that this is possible. He promised, “I think we can make it happen.” And we can do it as early as next year. In 2022, he said, a prototype will be presented.
But Elon Musk’s vision extends beyond a simple assistive robot. In the long term, Musk sees robots completely replacing humans at work. We would only have to work if we really wanted to. Work could become entirely voluntary, Musk believes.
Accordingly, he supports an unconditional basic income. Musk believes that robots like the Tesla Bot have almost unlimited potential for the economy.
Is Tesla just trying to distract?
The Tesla Bot sounds good, but how realistic are these promises? Given the major problems Tesla currently has with Autopilot, both technical and legal, consumers may well have concerns that Autopilot will function smoothly in human form.
On top of that, the timeline sounds more than ambitious. Robotics specialists such as Boston Dynamics, who have invested many years and even more money in robot projects such as the police dog Digidog or a care bot, are still a long way from such a smart bot as Musk promises for next year.
Some therefore suspect that the Tesla Bot is only meant to distract critics and skeptics from the current problems surrounding the Tesla Autopilot.
However, the Tesla robot is probably not a completely empty promise. Anyone who knows Elon Musk knows that he will present a bot in 2022. But will it be the fully functional bot he announced at Tesla AI Day? Doubtful!
As was the case with his “Hyperloop” project, we’re more likely to see a first (mini) stage on the road to a Tesla robot next year. But who knows, Elon Musk has already been good for a surprise more than once.