Tesla presented its newest product in the pipeline to the world during its AI Day event. This time, the product was a humanoid robot that, according to the head of the company, Elon Musk, could be ready to hit the assembly line by next year.
The “Optimus” robot caught the attention of all attendees despite not being capable of walking or doing anything by itself as Musk acknowledged that the team opted to keep things simple as it was the first time that the unit “operated without a tether”.
The billionaire founder of SpaceX and other high-tech ventures commented that the price tag of Optimus may not exceed $20,000 and that Tesla (TSLA) was ready to mass produce the robot and deliver “millions” of units in a relatively short period.
Optimus is powered by the same technology that powers the autopilot mode of Tesla’s flagship electric vehicles but the software has been repurposed to perform simple real-world tasks such as lifting boxes.
The robot has a 2.3kWh battery pack and carries 28 structural actuators. Moreover, its hands and other joints are highly flexible. In addition, Optimus has WiFi and LTE connectivity embedded.
Musk categorized Optimus as “the most important product development” Tesla is working on this year and predicted that its commercial prospects could be “more significant than the vehicle business over time”.
Musk Promised a Working Robot, Optimus Is Not That
In August 2021, Tesla made the headlines after its CEO revealed the Tesla Bot project. However, an actual robot was not shown to the audience. Instead, a person dressed similarly to the humanoid made a rather awkward appearance that included dancing and some sort of moon walking.
Musk sold the Tesla Bot as a partner that could perform “dangerous, repetitive, boring tasks” for its owners such as walking to the store to buy some groceries. However, Musk did not provide a timeline, a price tag, or what the robot will actually be capable of doing once it starts being commercialized.
This time, the CEO’s comments were a bit more specific in regards to those aspects but were still not definitive. What this usually means when it comes to Musk is that the firm is actively developing the project but may not be anywhere near a working prototype.
Tesla and its CEO have showcased several other flashy ideas in the past that have not turned into actual products – at least not until now. However, that has not discouraged fans and robot lovers from keeping their hopes up as Tesla continues to be at the forefront of the tech industry.
Tesla is Struggling to Produce More Vehicles, Robots Are Probably Not a Priority
From macroeconomic headwinds to lithium shortages, the current environment may not be the most favorable one to deviate resources to a project such as Optimus.
In the very near term, Tesla is still struggling to recover from the consequences that a recent COVID-19 outbreak in China had in the firm’s manufacturing capacity within the country.
Moreover, the macroeconomic environment is not the most favorable for Tesla either as raw material costs continue to be on the rise as inflation is spiraling out of control in most developed countries.
In this regard, the cost of lithium, carbon fiber, and even the chips needed to power Optimus may be too high and the supply of those components may be limited at the time. This would surely lead the management team to prioritize Tesla’s vehicles over any other project that still has to prove its commercial appeal.
Finally, Musk himself, a key puzzle piece in the development of new products at Tesla, may be more invested in the development of other more promising units of its businesses such as SpaceX’s space launches and the deployment of more Starlink satellites and terminals across the world.
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