The Unveiling of Optimus


Optimus, also known as Tesla Bot, was unveiled last week at Tesla’s AI Day. It was a disappointment to a lot of observers. The humanoid robot was presented in two forms. One looks the way Musk expects the final product to look. That version of the Tesla Bot is sleeker than most humanoid robots, but can’t actually do much. It has opposable thumbs and five separately articulated fingers, plus 28 degrees of freedom, so it does a good job of waving. However, it was wheeled onto and off of the stage by three men. Musk predicted that it would be able to walk “in a few weeks.”

It is, as Musk said, more impressive than last year’s Tesla Bot, which turned out to be a human being in a robot suit.

Bumble C.

The other example was Bumble C, a less refined looking humanoid robot which was able to walk a little bit on the stage. Musk also showed some video clips of this robot lifting and carrying things.

It watered a plant, for its most impressive trick. It also picked up a metal bar in a Tesla factory and appeared to be planning to set the bar down in another place. However, the video clips of this trick all stopped short before the bar was successfully placed, which makes it a little hard to believe in.

Several engineers described various aspects of the forthcoming robot. It will have a battery that allows it to work for a full workday (whatever that means for a robot) and will use the same “brain” as the Tesla car.

“Our goal is to make a useful humanoid robot as quickly as possible,” Musk said. He acknowledged that there was still a lot of work to be done.

A quasi-infinite economy

Musk defined an economy as “capita times productivity per capita.” When there is no upper limit for capacity, he suggested, there would be a completely different economy, a limitless abundance that will end poverty and give people whatever they want.

“It really is a fundamental transformation of civilization as we know it,” Musk said.

That’s not what was on the stage, but it could be coming up.