Tesla Optimus robot

August 2021
Updated: October 2022

Optimus is a humanoid robot being developed by Tesla. First announced by Tesla CEO Elon Musk at the the company's AI Day in August 2021 as the 'Tesla bot', two working prototypes named Optimus were revealed in September 2022.

Optimus is a general purpose robot the purpose of which, according to Musk, is to fulfill 'dangerous, repetitive and boring' tasks. It is controlled by Tesla's automotive advanced driver-assistance system.

Optimus will cost 'much less than USD 20,000' and be available by 2027.

Critical reaction

Optimus has been met with a mixture of acclaim, scepticism and disappointment.

Reaction to Musk's initial announcement of a Tesla bot/robot at the auto company's 2021 AI Day was dominated by scepticism about its purpose and perceived marketing hype, the latter given Musk's numerous unfulfilled claims and promises about fully autonomous cars, robotaxis, and other products.

Tesla's 2022 working prototype appears to justify this scepticism. Whilst some commentators and experts praised Tesla's quick work, others highlighted what they saw as its underwhelming quality and lack of clear vision.

Others questioned Optimus' humanoid form and asked why Musk appears intent on replacing human activity rather than working in tandem with it.

Operator: Tesla
Developer:
Tesla
Country: USA
Sector:
Technology
Purpose: Eliminate 'dangerous, repetitive, boring tasks'
Technology: Robotics; Computer vision; NLP/text analysis
Issue: Appropriateness/need; Accuracy/reliability; Employment - jobs
Transparency: Marketing