The TESLA BOT
In August 2021, TESLA announced they would be building a humanoid robot - the TESLA OPTIMUS BOT.
The real reason for doing so may be different to the publicly announced reason:
"Tesla is arguably the worlds largest robotics company... because our cars are semi-sentient robots on wheels... neural nets recognising the world, understanding how to navigate through the world... it kinda makes sense to put that on to a humanoid form." [Elon Musk, Aug 2021]
TESLA BOT Announcement August 2021
Arguably, the TESLA BOT has already earned TESLA a few additional column inches in media (this included) so there is presumably a PR angle in this as well.
The first version of the TESLA Optimus Bot was revealed at TESLA's AI DAY in September 2022.
TESLA AI DAY Presentation
The robot underwhelmed fantastically. However, in some way, perhaps the TESLA engineers should be given kudos for spinning up a free standing humanoid in only 12 or 13 months since the public announcement.
That is, of course, unless TESLA has actually been working on the robot for much longer without doing any public announcements.
In terms of its functionality - Optimus looked and felt like an advanced student project where open source had been utilised. Yes, the shape and design looked like a few designers had been involved.
The movements, such as the handwaving at the audience was equally underwhelming... it was super slow... almost, just almost, painful to watch.
Why are we left wanting?
STIQ expected a bit more from a TESLA humanoid robot named Optimus (as in "Optimus Prime" - remember, the Transformers?).
The version that was released did not feel like a product that should have been released. It most likely left a lot of people amazed, but if you have seen the many humanoids available, Optimus was definitely simply one of many attempts.
Yes, there are plenty of humanoid robots in existence, perhaps some of the first and more advanced for their day were revealed by Honda - another car manufacturer (or "mobility company" as some LinkedIn members pointed out recently).
Honda (or one of their R&D subsidiaries) started developing humanoid robots in 1986 (source) and publicly revealed a few versions from 1993 onwards.
Although Asimo by Honda uses far more plastics, its movements are not far removed from Optimus.
ASIMO by Honda's Research & Development Subsidiary (2014)
Digit by Agility Robotics (backed by Amazon's industrial investment fund)
Another very well known humanoid robot - Atlas - by Boston Dynamics reached new levels of agility and capabilities with its jumps through hoops and Olympic gold medal level gymnastic performances.
Although, most of Atlas performances where conducted in relatively well controlled environments. Nevertheless, we were stunned to see the level of performance on display in the many videos released by Boston Dynamics.
Note that Boston Dynamics was recently acquired by another car company - Hyundai Motor Group (source)... what is the affection for humanoids by car companies (and some mobility vendors)?
Atlas by Boston Dynamics was first unveiled to the public in 2013 (Wikipedia)
How can TESLA compete?
TESLA's Optimus Bot has the advantage of a founder's pet project attention and optimistic shareholders. Very few people will probably bet against Elon's wishes to develop an industrial grade humanoid robot.
Perhaps understanding the real motive for Optimus is more important before analysing how the robot will fare on the open market (STIQ question: Is there even a market for humanoid robots right now?)
Is Optimus simply a PR exercise to showcase how far TESLA has evolved its AI (or AGI) developments? Or, is it a serious attempt at disrupting manufacturing processes?
Perhaps the true answer is somewhere in between...
Great with more Robot action!
Whatever TESLA's ambitions and intentions with Optimus, the fact they have entered the robotics space can only be a positive for further developments in the sector.
Many other heavyweight companies are promoting making robots easier, such as Nvidia with their new solutions and backing of ROS (open source Robot Operating System).
New Legged Robots report coming?
STIQ has collated a list of about 40 or so manufacturers of legged robots, including humanoids.
Do you want to read a #free report from STIQ on "Legged Robotics"? Let us know!
In the mean time - download some of our free robotics market reports: