Elon Musk Debuts Autonomous Version of Optimus Robot

Tesla CEO offers public a view of the independent moving robot he says could sell for under $20,000.

Elon Musk held a coming out party for Tesla’s autonomous humanoid robot, called Optimus, at the company’s AI (artificial intelligence) day Friday.

In a presentation, the robot walked, waved and moved around on the stage without any supporting cables or human intervention. Musk said it was the first time the robot had moved without any tethers or supports.

Musk first announced plans for Tesla to develop robots last year.

The mercurial billionaire and entrepreneur was unusually subdued in his comments, warning that the development of millions of robots could have unforeseen consequences for humanity.

However, Musk took the most optimistic view that massive development of robots “means a future of abundance where there is no poverty; where you can have whatever you want.”

He added that development of Optimus will be “a fundamental transformation of civilization,” adding “of course we want to be sure it’s a positive one.”

Musk said that Tesla was well equipped to handle any problems because it is a publicly traded company. “It’s very important that I can’t just do what I want,” Musk said. “The public can control Tesla,” by buying shares. “So if I go crazy, you can fire me,” he said. Musk holds roughly a 17% stake in the electric vehicle maker. 

Musk offered no specific launch date for the robot, but said the company’s goal is to “make a usable humanoid robot as quickly as possible.”  

He said Optimus is being designed so that it’s possible “to make the robot at a high volume at low cost with high reliability.” He said Optimus is “expected to cost much less than a car. I would say probably less than $20,000.”

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