Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has said the electric automaker will probably launch a “Tesla Bot” humanoid robot prototype next year, designed for dangerous, repetitive or boring work that people do not like to do.
Speaking on Thursday (Aug 19) at Tesla’s AI Day event, the billionaire entrepreneur said the robot, which stands at around 1.7m tall, would be able to handle jobs ranging from attaching bolts to cars with a wrench to picking up groceries at stores.
The humanoid robot prototype would have “profound implications for the economy”, Mr Musk said, addressing a labour shortage. He said it was important to make the machine not “super-expensive”.
The AI Day event came amid growing scrutiny over the safety and capability of Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” advanced driver-assistance system.
Mr Musk did not comment on that scrutiny over the safety of Tesla technology but said that he was confident of achieving full self-driving with higher safety than humans using current in-car cameras and computers.
US safety regulators earlier this week opened an investigation into Tesla’s driver-assistance system because of accidents where Tesla cars crashed into stationary police cars and fire trucks.
Two United States senators have also called on the Fair Trade Commission to investigate Tesla’s claims for its self-driving system.
At the event on Thursday, Tesla also unveiled chips it designed in-house for its high-speed computer, Dojo, to help develop its automated driving system. Musk said Dojo would be operational next year.
He said Tesla will also introduce new hardware for the self-driving computer in its Cybertruck electric pickup truck in “about a year or so”.
Tesla in July pushed back the launch of its much-anticipated Cybertruck this year, without giving a timeframe for its arrival on the market.
On Thursday, some questioned whether Mr Musk, who has frequently touted technology advances at showpiece events only to scale plans down later on, would be able to make good on his aims for the robot.
“Is the Tesla Bot the next dream shot to pump up the hype machine?” asked electrical and computer engineering professor Raj Rajkumarat of Carnegie Mellon University.
“I can safely say that it will be much longer than 10 years before a humanoid bot from any company on the planet can go to the store and get groceries for you.”
Originally published at The straits times