Tesla CEO Elon Musk and leaders of the company’s AI and hardware teams are set to speak at the company’s AI Day 2022, an engineering recruitment event, which will be streamed live Friday from around 5:00 p.m. in California. You can watch AI Day 2022 here.
On the last AI day in August 2021, Musk said that Tesla would build a humanoid robot, today called Tesla Bot or Optimus.
“It’s meant to be user-friendly, of course, to navigate a world of humans and eliminate dangerous, repetitive and boring tasks,” Musk said at the time.
Tesla didn’t have a hardware prototype to show off last year and made the 2021 announcement with an actor in a Tesla Bot suit dancing on stage. The stunt drew snickers from critics and cheers from fans.
This year, investors expect a real technology demonstration of the robot, as well as updates on Tesla’s progress in developing self-driving technology that can transform the company’s existing electric vehicles. in robotaxis.
Musk has been promising a truly self-driving Tesla since 2016, when he said a coast-to-coast demonstration would take place by the end of 2017. To date, the company has only released self-driving systems. driving assistance which must be constantly supervised by a human. driver who remains attentive to the road and his car, ready to take over at any time.
When Musk originally pitched the humanoid robot concept on AI Day 2021, Musk said of Optimus, “He should be able to, please go to the store and bring me subsequent races,” that sort of thing.”
Later, Musk said the robots made by Tesla were one day worth more than his cars, and that thousands of them would be put to work moving parts around factories, where humans build cars and batteries.
On Tesla’s fourth quarter 2021 earnings call, Musk remarked, “If you think about the economy, the foundation of the economy is work. I’m not even sure what an economy is. means at that time. This is what Optimus is all about, it is very important.
Tesla has a mixed track record with automation.
As Toni Sacconaghi, senior research analyst at Bernstein, wrote in a Sept. 30 note ahead of AI Day 2022, in 2018 Tesla “mistakenly attempted to hyper-automate its final assembly (that’s i.e. putting coins in cars).” The result was that Musk was quick to admit that “excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake” and that “humans are undervalued.”
Tesla then brought more people back to its manufacturing and assembly lines, but Sacconaghi writes that today Tesla is overly automating its customer service. Tesla owners typically find it difficult to get in touch with sales and service representatives at Tesla, and are encouraged to perform all possible complaint resolutions through Tesla’s mobile app.
Longtime robotics engineer Alexander Kernbaum, who is now acting director of the vaunted research and development nonprofit SRI, says whether or not Tesla is impressing with its robotics update at AI Day, the company has the resources to develop something meaningful and sparked new interest in the field.
However, Kernbaum notes, when it comes to creating a robot that can make a difference in a car assembly plant, Tesla really doesn’t need to develop a two-pedal robot. “Mobile robots will find uses,” he explains, “but mobility should be as simple as possible for a factory environment, meaning wheels would be the way to go, not legs.”
Robotic legs require a lot of power, for one thing, which would strain any battery Tesla developed for its robotics. Also, legged robots – like people – can trip and fall. Wheeled robots would be less likely to tip over. The concern for safety should be equivalent in a factory, suggests Kernbaum.
Kernbaum thinks Tesla would be better served by focusing on robotic hands. He said: “Hands are like the ultimate multi-tool. Dexterity and manipulation of objects in the hand are the big 10-year challenges that will have a clear impact on all precision manufacturing and everything really. “
AI Day 2022 will be the company’s first major event since the resignation of former Tesla AI chief Andrej Karpathy. AI Day comes ahead of Tesla’s third-quarter vehicle production and deliveries report, which is due in a few days.