Tesla’s robot waves but can’t walk, yet. Elon Musk plans to make millions of them
Musk: ‘If I go crazy, you can fire me’
Musk has described the event as intended to recruit workers, and the engineers on stage catered to a technical audience. They detailed the process by which Tesla designed robot hands and used crash-simulator technology to test the robot’s ability to fall on its face without breaking.
Musk, who has spoken before about the risks of artificial intelligence, said the mass rollout of robots had the potential to “transform civilization” and create “a future of abundance, a future of no poverty.” But he said he believed it was important that Tesla shareholders had a role in vetting the company’s efforts.
“If I go crazy, you can fire me,” Musk said. “This is important.”
Many reactions on Twitter were positive, focusing on the speed of Tesla’s development effort since August last year, when Tesla announced its project with a stunt that had a person in a white suit simulate a humanoid robot.
Henri Ben Amor, a robotics professor at Arizona State University, said Musk’s price target of $20,000 was a “good proposition,” since current costs are about $100,000 for humanoid robots.
“There’s some discrepancy between sort of the ambition and what they have presented,” he said. “When it comes to dexterity, speed, the ability to walk in a stable fashion and so on, there’s still a lot of work to be done.”
Aaron Johnson, a mechanical engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University, also said the robot’s need was debatable.
“What is really impressive is that they got to that level so quickly. What is still a little murky is what exactly the use case is for them to make millions of these,” Johnson said.
Tesla also discussed its long-delayed self-driving technology at the event. Engineers working on the auto self-driving software described how they trained software to choose actions, such as when to merge into traffic, and how they sped up the computer decision-making process.
In May, Musk said that the world’s most valuable car maker would be “worth basically zero” without achieving full self-driving capability, and it faces growing regulatory probes, as well as technological hurdles.
Musk said on Friday beta testing of Tesla’s full self-driving capability will be “technically” ready for global rollout by the end of 2022, but regulations represent hurdles.