Ultimately, Tesla would like for its Optimus humanoid robot to help build cars. It can’t do that just yet, but Elon Musk has shared a new video of the robot impressively folding clothes.
We are increasingly starting to take the Optimus project more seriously.
When Optimus, also known as Tesla Bot, was first announced, it seemed to be a half-baked idea from CEO Elon Musk with a dancer disguised as a robot for visual aid. It also didn’t help that the demo at Tesla AI Day in 2022 was less than impressive.
At the time, Tesla had a very early prototype that didn’t look like much. It was barely able to walk around and wave at the crowd. That was about it.
But the project has come a long way since then.
I noted that the project was gaining credibility with the update at Tesla’s 2023 shareholders meeting last year.
At the time, Tesla showed several more prototypes that all looked more advanced and started to perform actually useful tasks.
In September, we got another Optimus update. In that report, Tesla said that Optimus is now being trained with neural nets end-to-end, and it was able to perform new tasks, like sorting objects autonomously.
Last month, Tesla unveiled “Optimus Gen 2”, a new generation of its humanoid robot that is much more refined:
Ultimately, Tesla sees people having this robot in their homes to perform a wide range of tasks, but first, the automaker plans to use them in its own manufacturing operations to perform repetitive and or dangerous tasks.
The company is not quite there yet, but it has shown impressive improvements lately.
Today, Musk shared a new video of a Optimus Gen 2 robot folding a shirt:
That might not look like much compared to a person, but it showcases impressive dexterity for a humanoid robot.
Milan Kovac, one of the lead engineers on the project, commented saying that the robot is going to be able to handle increasingly more complex tasks:
I spot a nice stack of Tesla 4680 cells on the table next to the robot folding clothes. So it does seem that Tesla is working on having Optimus perform some more useful tasks for its own operations.
Tesla believes it is in a great position to create the first useful humanoid robot by leveraging its AI work on its self-driving vehicle program and expertise in batteries and electric motors. It argued that its vehicles are already robots on wheels. Now, it just needs to make them in humanoid forms to be able to replace humans in some tasks through training.
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