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Tesla Unveils Optimus Robot Prototype and Second Generation Prototype - Movie, iRobot, May Be a Documentary?

Tesla Optimus Prototype One, Development Platform.
Tesla Optimus Prototype One,
Development Platform.

September 30th finally rolled around along with Tesla A.I. day and the unveiling of not one but two Tesla Optimus Robot prototypes. Which was quite a bonus since we hadn't heard anything much about these robots when I wrote about them in July of 2022.

Before revealing the first prototype, Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, made a point of managing everyone's expectations, just in case anyone was thinking they were about to see anything close to the actual human concept 'robot' we saw last year.

I honestly don't think anyone was expecting that.

Prototype One - Development Platform

The prototype that walked out on stage, for the very first time without ever being tethered to anything (apparently), was still incredibly impressive despite not being streamlined and highly refined in its capability.

It walked quite well - eerily similar to the first generation robots in the 2004, Will Smith movie, iRobot, and even did a bit of a dance.

The video demonstration of it in action, performing various chores in real world, human, environments didn't really blow anyone's mind but certainly showed great potential to build from. Unsurprisingly the robot contains a version of the same GPS and environment visualization technology used in the company's vehicles to help its spatial awareness as it moves around.

Overall prototype one didn't seem too far removed from the concept model. It looked the approximate height and proportion of a human with a lot of wires and servos attached to them. Most impressively it was made with 'off the shelf' parts.

Prototype Two - Production Concept

To be honest I would've been completely satisfied if the presentation had ended there but Elon announced a second prototype that was wheeled out on stage and only partially functional.

The second prototype and Elon Musk. Elon is on the far right.
The second prototype and Elon Musk. Elon is on the far right.

This second prototype being developed concurrently with the first was more streamlined and refined, and was built with custom made, Tesla parts. It still wasn't the same as the concept model but certainly a few steps closer.

Elon explained that the first prototype was really a working model to try and sort out all the mechanics and tech before investing in a production model - which prototype two was meant to represent (or at least be closer to being a production model).

Elon estimated they were only a few weeks to months away from this robot being able to walk.

iRobot May Be a Documentary?

At this point Elon definitely started to give of vibes that the movie, iRobot, might be a documentary sent back from the future. He estimated that Optimus would retail for around US$20,000 (cheaper than a car), would be made in volume (millions of units) as a way of keeping the costs down, and might be something everyone would have in their home.

He then went on to talk about the robot being some kind of key to an economic future of abundance that humanity could embrace. That sounded very much like the rhetoric often attributed as a goal of the World Economic Forum (it isn't one of their goals by the way) where they predict in the future you will own nothing and be happy (well you may own an Optimus robot... but apart from that... nothing).

To top the day off Tesla announced they're building a 'Super Computer' called DOJO. I'm not entirely sure what it's for but I got the impression it has highly accelerated data processing capabilities - basically it can 'think' faster than most computers by a long way. 

Let's just hope it doesn't become self aware enough to give everyone's home Optimus a human curfew directive.

Tesla Optimus Prototypes. Side by Side comparison. 1. Concept 2. Prototype 1. 3. Production Prototype 2.
Tesla Optimus Prototypes. Side by Side comparison.

That aside, I'm really impressed with Tesla's progress on Optimus. Once the problem of a robot being able  move safely around the real world, occupied by humans, is over come, the flood gates of how robots could be developed to assist in almost any situation is just waiting to be opened.

Watch a full supercut of highlights from Tesla AI Day 2022 in the video below.

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