Tesla’s AI Day is Here, Yet Techies Still Don’t Like the Optimus Bot
Tesla’s AI day presented ‘Optimus Bot’ but fails to impress with its new Optimus humanoid robot
An early prototype of Tesla’s proposed Optimus Bot leisurely and awkwardly walked onto a stage, turned, and waved to a cheering crowd at Tesla’s AI Day event Friday. But the basic tasks by the robot with exposed wires and electronics — as well as a later, next-generation version that had to be carried onstage by three men — were a long way from CEO Elon Musk’s vision of a humanoid robot that keeps potential to change the world.
Musk conveyed to the crowd that many of whom might be hired by Tesla, that the Optimus bot is capable to perform much more than the audience saw on Tesla’s AI day. He further said humanoid Optimus Bot is very delicate and “we just didn’t want it to fall on its face.” Musk said that the main problem with flashy robot demonstrations is that the robots are “missing a brain” and do not carry the intelligence to navigate themselves, but he presented little evidence Friday that Optimus humanoid robot was any more intelligent than robots presented by other companies and researchers. The demo was not impressive for AI researcher Filip Piekniewski, who tweeted it was “next level cringeworthy” and a “complete and utter scam.” He said it would be “good to test falling of Optimus bot, as this thing will be falling a lot.” “None of this is cutting edge,” tweeted robotics expert Cynthia Yeung. “Hire some PhDs and go to some robotics conferences @Tesla.”
Yeung also questioned Tesla planning to opt for its robot to have a human-like hand with five fingers, noting “there’s a reason why” warehouse robots generated by startup firms use pinchers with two or three fingers or vacuum-based grippers. Musk explained that AI night was the first time the early robot walked onstage without a tether. He further said that Tesla’s aim is to bring an “extremely capable” robot in high volumes — possibly millions of them — at a cost that could be less than a car, that he guessed would be less than $20,000.
These quotes are all from Musk.
“I do want to set some expectations with respect to our Optimus bot… Last year was just a person in a robot suit, but we’ve come a long way, and compared to that, it’s going to be very impressive.”
It’s far too late for Musk to attempt to set fair-minded expectations for the Optimus or can say Tesla’s robotics program in general. Most roboticists carry better knowledge than to use humans, when setting expectations for humanoid robots, disappointment is inevitable. And trying to save it at the literal last minute by saying “compared to not having a robot at all, our robot will be very impressive,” while true, is not going to fix things.