Musk says robot, destined for 2023, will be worth more than Tesla’s auto business – TechCrunch

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company’s robot, named Optimus, “will be worth more than the automotive industry, more than FSD.”

FSD, or “full self-driving,” is Tesla’s advanced driver assistance system that relies on cameras and computer vision technology to perform certain autonomous driving tasks. An FSD subscription costs Tesla owners about $12,000 a year.

The executive said on the company’s first quarter 2022 earnings call that Tesla was continuing to work on its robot. Optimus was first introduced in August 2021 on Tesla’s first AI day. The 5’8″ robot will build on Tesla’s work in neural networks and the advanced Dojo supercomputer, and Musk envisions it performing tasks that might otherwise be described as human drudgery – things like groceries and other daily chores.

So far, all we’ve seen of the robot concept has been a person in a white spandex jumpsuit.

Earlier this month, at the opening of Tesla’s gigafactory in Austin, Musk said a new wave of products, like Optimus, would be introduced in 2023.

“I was surprised that people didn’t realize the magnitude of the Optimus robot program,” Musk said on Wednesday’s earnings call. “The importance of Optimus will become evident in the years to come. Those who are discerning or who watch, listen carefully, will understand that Optimus will ultimately be worth more than the automotive sector, more than FSD.

We’re not exactly calling bullshit about it, but the idea that Tesla will be able to bring a robot like this to market anytime soon seems rather unrealistic. Other companies have been trying to create humanoid robots to take over human labor for years, and we haven’t heard why it might possibly work for Tesla, especially given the short timeframe Musk is aiming for. After all, it took Boston Dynamics 25 years of dedicated learning to build Atlas, and other automakers like Honda, Toyota and General Motors have also unveiled robot concepts in recent years that barely landed.

Why is that? Well, first there is the question of whether a humanoid robot is actually the most efficient way to automate things. Then there is the issue of cost and scale. Because what is the target audience for a robot that will remove human drudgery? The obvious answer is those currently struggling in the grind, people who don’t have enough money to outsource things like doing laundry or grocery shopping. A Roomba alone could cost you $900. Will Tesla be able to scale its robot fast enough to cost less than $10,000 a pop? Probably not.

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