Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced Thursday evening that the electric carmaker is now branching out and working on a humanoid “Tesla bot” — with one analyst calling the project a “head-scratcher that will further agitate investors.”
Musk made the announcement at the company’s AI Day event, which Tesla holds in an effort to recruit “the best AI talent,” Musk has previously said.
The mega-billionaire tech entrepreneur said a prototype of the 5 ft. 8 in., 125-pound robot could be ready as soon as next year.
“It’s basically going to start dealing with work that is boring, repetitive and dangerous,” Musk said at the event beside an actor in a skintight body suit designed to look like the Tesla robot. “What is the work that people would least like to do?”
Musk did not say when or at what price the bot might be sold to individuals or organizations, but insisted that it will have a “profound” impact on the economy by driving down labor costs.
“But not right now because this robot doesn’t work,” Musk noted, nonetheless insisting that, “In the future, physical work will be a choice.”
Musk said the robot. which is code-named “Optimus,” will use the same chips and sensors as Tesla’s so-called Autopilot software, which has come under intense scrutiny from lawmakers and federal regulators.
“We’re making the pieces that would be useful for [building] a humanoid robot, so we should probably make it. If we don’t, someone else will — and we want to make sure it’s safe,” Musk said.
The bot will be able to carry 45 pounds and lift 150 pounds, Musk said, adding that it will be able to run 5 miles per hour. He said the machine will be designed so that humans easily run away from and overpower it.
“Talk to it and say, ‘please pick up that bolt and attach it to a car with that wrench,’ and it should be able to do that,” Musk said. “‘Please go to the store and get me the following groceries.’ That kind of thing. I think we can do that.”
The unveiling of the bot is Musk’s latest display of showmanship, but the billionaire has a knack for setting lofty goals, especially when it comes to machine-learning projects.
At an “Autonomy Day” event in 2019, Musk said the company would have 1 million autonomous “robotaxis” on the road by 2020 — but such cars have yet to be produced.
“Unfortunately, as we have seen with robotaxis and other future sci-fi projects for Musk we view this Tesla Bot as an absolute head-scratcher that will further agitate investors at a time the Street is showing growing concern around rising EV competition and safety issues for Tesla,” Dan Ives, managing director at Wedbush Securities, said Friday.
“While we appreciate Musk’s longer-term technology vision, a Tesla Bot is not what investors want to see,” he added.
Ives said Tesla has a number of issues it should be focused on, including securing its supply of microchips that has hampered global production of new cars and reportedly led to months-long delays of Tesla deliveries.
He also said the company needs to deal with growing scrutiny of its Autopilot features and growing its position in the Chinese electric-car market.
Ives nonetheless maintained his firm’s outperform rating on Tesla stock and reiterated his $1,000 12-month price target, implying upside of nearly 40 percent based on Thursday’s closing price.
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