Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, unveiled the latest frontier he intends to conquer; humanoid robots, after dominating the electric vehicle market and tossing his hat into the billionaire space race.
The irascible entrepreneur announced Thursday that he would have a working prototype of an androgynous “Tesla Bot” by next year.
The robot, which will be based on the same technology as Tesla’s semi-autonomous vehicles, will be able to execute simple repetitive chores, with the goal of eliminating the need for people to undertake a risky or dull job; Musk revealed at an online event on Tesla’s breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI).
“Tesla is arguably the world’s biggest robotics company because cars are semi-sentient robots on wheels,” he said. “It kind of makes sense to put that into a humanoid form”.
Tesla’s promotion of its automated technology comes as the automaker faces greater scrutiny over its driver-assistance system, with US safety regulators conducting an investigation following a string of crashes.
Tesla has been accused of deceiving drivers into believing that the so-called Autopilot vehicles can drive themselves, despite Musk’s defence of the system.
The Autopilot scandal was not covered at Thursday’s two and a half-hour online conference, nor was it brought up during audience questions.
Musk, on the other hand, promised that his future robot would be a pleasant presence. He stated that the Tesla Bot, which will have five-fingered hands and will be available in black and white, is supposed to be “friendly” and built in such a way that “you can run away from it and most likely overpower it”.
“Hopefully that won’t happen, but you never know,” he joked.
Musk, the second richest person in the world according to Forbes, told the conference he believes robots will phase out physical labour for people.
“I think essentially in the future physical work will be a choice,” he said.
Musk, as CEO, has transformed Tesla from a young startup into an industry leader in electric vehicles, with the business last month earning its first-ever quarterly profit of more than $1 billion on record deliveries.
His business, SpaceX, competes in the brisk commercial aerospace sector, while Neuralink seeks to build brain implants that will connect humans and computers.
However, the self-described “Technoking” has had numerous run-ins with regulators over issues ranging from his use of social media to criticize Tesla’s operations to local coronavirus health protocols affecting his facilities.
The corporation has a tumultuous history with its human employees, including complaints of unfair labour practices and firing a union organizer.