Elon Musk introduces Tesla Bot, a humanoid robot that uses vehicle AI

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The Tesla Bot, a humanoid robot that the carmaker presented on Thursday evening.

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Thursday unveiled a humanoid robot called the Tesla Bot, which runs on the same AI used by Tesla’s fleet of autonomous vehicles. A working version of the robot did not show up during Musk’s reveal, though a slightly bizarre dance by a performer dressed like a Tesla bot did.

The unexpected reveal came at the end of Tesla’s AI day Presentation, with Musk providing some details about the slightly creepy, Slenderman-like robot in addition to a few PowerPoint slides. The 5-foot-8-inch robot is believed to weigh 125 pounds and be built from “lightweight materials,” he said.

Its head will be equipped with the autopilot cameras used by Tesla’s vehicles to capture the surroundings and contain a screen to display information. Internally it gets over Tesla’s fully self-driving computer.

“It’s supposed to be kind,” joked Musk, “and navigate a world built for people.”

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The robot’s appearance came after a 90-minute presentation describing some of the artificial intelligence upgrades that power Tesla’s electric vehicles, including the Dojo supercomputer that allows trains to navigate city streets without human assistance. “It makes sense to get that into humanoid form,” Musk said.


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Elon Musk introduces the Tesla bot

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Three slides detailed the robot’s proposed specifications, and Musk made sure he pointed out that you could both overtake and “overwhelm” the Tesla bot. He has in the past railed against the use of robots as weapons and warned of the risks that AI could pose – once called it the “greatest risk we face as a civilization”. I think if it’s your incredibly slow, easily overwhelming robots, the dangers are reduced.

“We should be concerned about AI,” Musk repeated during a question-and-answer session after the presentation. “What we’re trying to do here at Tesla is to have useful AI that people love and that is … clearly good.”

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One slide said the Tesla bot would eliminate “dangerous, repetitive, boring tasks,” and Musk provided an example suggesting that the robot could be instructed to “go to the store and … the following groceries pick up”. Not that such a task is particularly dangerous, but you might find it repetitive and boring.

Musk, who tends to make bold predictions about the future, has talked a little about how he envisions Tesla Bot changing the future of work too. “That I think is going to be pretty profound,” he said. “Essentially, physical labor will be a choice in the future. If you want to do it, you can do it, but you don’t have to.”

Continue reading: Nobody knows when the Tesla Bot will arrive. Here are robots for you to experience right now

It’s hard to say how far away such a future may be, but there is a huge gap between presenting a few PowerPoint slides and providing a real, working humanoid robot. It will likely be a long time getting your bread and milk through the Tesla bot, but, according to Musk, a prototype will likely be ready next year.

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