"Next-Level Cringe-Worthy": AI Robot Experts React To Tesla's Optimus Humanoid Robot Reveal

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by Tyler Durden
Sunday, Oct 02, 2022 - 09:30 PM

On Friday, Tesla held its much anticipated "AI Day," where an electromechanically-actuated, autonomous bipedal humanoid robot (also called "Optimus") was revealed. 

CEO Elon Musk said Tesla's goal was to be able to make an "extremely capable" robot in high volumes that would cost around $20,000. He said the robot would cost less than a car with the manufacturing capacity to produce millions of units. 

Before unveiling the robot, Musk admitted that the company had nothing done last year when promoting the idea of a robot:

"I do want to set some expectations with respect to our Optimus robot. As you know, last year it was just a person in a robot suit. But, we've come a long way, and it's...compared to that, it's going to be very impressive."

When it came time for the big reveal, it was one on a par with Tesla's previous reveals, like the Cybertruck: clunky, unfinished, optimistically priced, and not yet available to the public with little or no clue on when series production would begin. 

In fact, this is highly reminiscent of Full Self Driving -- except some Tesla owners have already shelled out $10,000 for the service. 

Regardless, the demo included one robot, with its "internal organs" exposed, who walked stiffly on stage and slowly waved at the crowd. Then another robot was pushed out and held up by what appeared to be a base stand. It waved and moved its arms and legs while the crowd (which was reported to be mostly Tesla employees) hurriedly took photos. 

And that was the "big reveal."

Optimus' abilities appear to trail Hyundai's Boston Dynamics by years.

And what Honda was doing...22 years ago:

The video was then shown of Tesla's robot completing tasks like carrying boxes, watering plants, and working on what appeared to be an assembly line - but no live demonstration of such tasks happened. 

Musk did some more damage control after the reveal and said that the robot could do much more than it showed off on Friday but was delicate and that "we just didn't want it to fall on its face."

The presentation was almost universally criticized by experts and journalists, though the company did get a lot of praise from its cultists supporters on social media.

"After a lot of hype, a prototype of Tesla Bot was indeed unveiled last night at Tesla's 2022 AI Day. And as it turns out, the hype was just that—hype," IEEE Spectrum said. 

Even before the event, outlets were skeptical. On Friday, AutoEvolution wrote an article called: "Tesla Seems to Consistently Believe Its Customers Are Gullible as Fish."

Mashable called the robots "stiff" and "stumbling." 

As AP/DW pointed out, AI researcher Filip Piekniewski called the robots "next level cringe-worthy" and a "complete and utter scam" on Twitter. It would be "good to test falling, as this thing will be falling a lot," he said. 

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. What they've shown was a lame robotic demo and they bragged about 'solving' what everyone in the field already 'solved' years ago, and didn't mention a word about any actual progress in solving the stuff nobody yet solved," he continued

"Feels very 101. None of this is cutting edge," tweeted robotics expert Cynthia Yeung. "Hire some PhDs and go to some robotics conferences Tesla."

Tom Ryden, executive director of the US-based nonprofit startup incubator Mass Robotics, told DW: "When you're trying to develop a robot that is both affordable and useful, a humanoid kind of shape and size is not necessarily the best way."

"There's a lot of learning that they're getting from understanding the way humanoids function. But in terms of directly having a humanoid as a product, I'm not sure that that's going to be coming out anytime soon," Ryden said. 

Other viewers on Twitter were...less than thrilled with the performance:

While undoubtedly sell-side sycophants like Adam Jonas and Dan Ives are dutifully working "a million robots" into their DCF models and figuring out a way to double their price targets for Monday, the overall presentation didn't seem to do Musk or Tesla any favors.

The good news for Musk is now he can move past AI Day and maybe never talk about the robots again for some time. In fact, it may already be time to think about what the company will pitch for AI Day 2023 - after all, it's only 364 days away now! Hey - maybe people will forget about this! You know, like the Roadster 2.0!