Elon Musk has just announced that Tesla will begin developing a humanoid robot called the Tesla Bot that is designed to perform “unsafe, repetitive, or boring” tasks.
Tesla’s robot is one of the first non-automotive use cases of the highly advanced robotics technology they have deployed in their self-driving cars.
The robot is intended to be non-threatening for users, moving at a slow pace. It is relatively lightweight, and has a small profile. Musk assured the audience at his announcement event that the average person will be able to overpower or outrun the robot easily in the unlikely event that something goes awry.
Musk didn’t go into a lot of detail about the kinds of things his proposed creation might be able to do – but we can surmise that the robot might perform tasks that could be made as uniform as possible, like grabbing items off a shelf in Amazon warehouse, or screwing in bolts in a manufacturing facility. It is currently unclear how many domestic tasks the robot could perform. Samsung, for example, showcased a home assistant robot at CES this year that was shown to lay the table, serve wine, and stack the dishwasher (you can watch it in my CES highlight video here). This indicates that tech companies envisage a future with robots in our homes.
Musk did say that the Tesla bot will include functions and features that existing robots find difficult, like responding well to changes and 2-legged locomotion. Their robot will also use natural language processing to take in verbal instructions.
Hints About Production and Release
Tesla's job postings have become the object of much scrutiny in recent days, as people scramble to figure out where and when the robot is going to be developed and manufactured. Tesla is already building a large factory in Austin, Texas, but currently, most of the job postings for the robot are located in Palo Alto, California.
A prototype of the 5 foot, 8-inch robot is expected sometime in 2022 – although I am skeptical of that deadline, based on some of Elon Musk's previous announcements of fast-moving "grand plan" projects that never materialized or got heavily bogged down in the implementation phase.
What Will the Tesla Robot Cost?
What will you need to spend to own your own Tesla robot? Musk has not released a price, so there is rampant speculation online about the possible price tag for the Tesla Bot.
SoftBank Robotics offered its home companion Pepper humanoid robot for around $1,800 before halting production earlier this year. But with Tesla’s advanced technology, many are predicting that their robot could cost $10,000 (or far more).
There may also be a one-time upfront fee to buy the robot, and then a hefty monthly subscription fee.
I’ll be keeping an eye on Tesla’s ambitious plans for this autonomous robot, and will keep you posted with updates as soon as they come across my desk!
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