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Last August, Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed that his company was in the midst of developing a humanoid robot called Optimus, and now he expects to unveil the prototype at Tesla AI Day #2, scheduled for September 30.
In an interview with John Micklethwait, editor in chief of Bloomberg, earlier this week, Musk expressed optimism that Optimus will soon be ready for prime time.
“Well, I hope that we will have an interesting prototype to show people,” Musk said. “We have a very talented team at Tesla that I’m working with closely to have a prototype humanoid robot ready by the end of September. And I think we are tracking to that point.”
According to Tesla, Optimus will stand 5’8″ and weigh about 125 lbs. and will be controlled by the same AI system Tesla is developing for self-driving cars.
Though Musk and others initially designed Optimus to make life easier for human beings by performing boring or dangerous jobs on their behalf, these so-called humanoids seem to bring us ever closer to an AI world that actively diminishes communities and human relationships.
Musk himself admitted to Russian-American AI researcher and podcaster Lex Fridman back in December that Optimus presents an opportunity to address issues of human loneliness.
“To be honest, I have not actually thought about it from the companionship standpoint, but [Optimus] would end up being … it could be actually a very good companion,” Musk said.
Elon Musk and Lex Fridman discuss Tesla Bot
Citing the ability of Optimus to develop a “unique” personality like those of beloved “Star Wars” droids R2-D2 and C-3P0, Musk says that Optimus “could evolve to match” its “owner or … whatever you want to call it.”
In the interview, Musk and Fridman both appear excited about the prospect of a robot developing a “personality” engineered to suit or complement a real person, and both also express misgivings about calling such a real person the “owner” of the robot, perhaps signaling parity between human beings and manufactured robots.
“Owner seems like the wrong word,” Musk mused.
Though in the past Musk has cautioned against the “scary outcomes” of autonomous, Terminator-like robots, he admitted in the Fridman interview that he hadn’t spent much time considering the long-term sociological implications of Optimus.
“Normally, I do try to think pretty far into the future, but I haven’t really thought that far into the future with the Tesla bot,” Musk told Fridman.
Despite the fact that Musk hasn’t “really thought that far into the future with the Tesla bot,” Optimus is set to make an appearance on the world’s stage in just a few short months.