Call us not quite surprised that Elon Musk has amassed his fair share of skeptics over the last few years. And these skeptics are likely going to be in full force now that Tesla is getting ready to unveil its "Optimus" robot.
With a plan to "deploy thousands of humanoid robots" called Tesla Bots within its factories, "buzz" is reportedly building inside Tesla about the prospect of the auto company branching out into robotics, according to a new Reuters report.
Elon Musk has said the longer term goal for such robots would be for use "in homes, making dinner, mowing the lawn and caring for the elderly people" - and lets not forget also as a "sex partner", according to the report.
In fact, Musk has speculated that the company's robotics business could eventually be worth more than the company's current car business - a carrot on a stick for investors and just the type of forward looking statement you'd want to make if trying to prop up a company's already aggressive valuation.
Coming on September 30, Tesla plans to unveil a prototype of the robot at its "AI Day", the report says. Not unlike the case with autonomous driving and rockets that land themselves, humanoid robots have already been under development for "decades" by companies like Honda Motor Co and Hyundai Motor Co's Boston Dynamics unit.
The lead of NASA's Dexterous Robotics Team, Shaun Azimi, told Reuters: "Self-driving cars weren't really proved to be as easy as anyone thought. And it's the same way with humanoid robots to some extent."
Azimi continued: "If something unexpected happens, being flexible and robust to those kinds of changes is very difficult."
Musk has claimed the robots will perform boring and dangerous jobs, and that the company can leverage its expertise in AI to build robots at scale. "The code you will write will at term run in millions of humanoid robots across the world, and will therefore be held to high quality standards," a recent job listing for robot designers said.
Recall, it was at an autonomy event in 2019 that Musk promised 1 million robotaxis on the road by 2020. None of those have materialized as we head toward 2023. As such, skepticism about Tesla's robot is high going into the event.
Nancy Cooke, a professor in human systems engineering at Arizona State University, says Musk will need to show robots doing multiple unscripted actions to be taken seriously. She commented: "If he just gets the robot to walk around, or he gets the robots to dance, that's already been done. That's not that impressive."