No Terminator: Musk teases ‘useful’ humanoid robot

Published October 2, 2022
This video screen grab made from Tesla AI Day 2022 livestream shows the humanoid robot walking on stage in Palo Alto, California.—AFP
This video screen grab made from Tesla AI Day 2022 livestream shows the humanoid robot walking on stage in Palo Alto, California.—AFP

SAN FRANCISCO: Elon Musk on Friday showed off the latest version of a humanoid robot that the world’s richest man said could one day eliminate poverty.

An Optimus prototype wheeled on stage during an annual Tesla AI Day presentation was mounted to a small platform. The robot, which remains a work-in-progress, waved to the audience and raised its knees.

“Our goal is to make a useful humanoid robot as quick as possible,” the billionaire tech pioneer Musk told the audience at the event in Silicon Valley.

“There is still a lot of work to be done.” Tesla is adapting its autonomous car technology to give Optimus capabilities such as walking safely or working on a factory floor, company engineers said during the presentation. Another version of the robot, built with off-the-shelf components rather than Tesla-made parts like Optimus, walked slowly onto the stage, pumped its fists and thrust its hips briefly in time with music as if dancing.

“The robot can actually do a lot more than we just showed you, we just didn’t want it to fall on its face,” Musk quipped.

Tesla is designing Optimus robots to be produced at high rates, pushing the price perhaps lower than $20,000, Musk said.

“This means a future of abundance; a future where there is no poverty, a future where you can have what you want in terms of products and services,” Musk said. “It really is a fundamental transformation of civilization as we know it,” he said. Musk, who once warned of artificial intelligence being a threat to humanity, said that Tesla wants to make sure the transition to a society in which robots do the work and people reap the benefits is a safe one.

“We always want to be careful we don’t go down the Terminator path,” he cautioned, referring to a blockbuster film about a killer cyborg and noting that Tesla is building in safeguards including a stop button that can’t be tampered with.

Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2022

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