Elon Musk has postponed Tesla’s second AI Day from September 19 th until September 30 _th. While we’re all familiar with Tesla’s slow deadlines, the reasons behind this one are fascinating. Musk tweeted that the delay was due to the possibility that they might have a humanoid robot that can be demonstrated by then.
The humanoid robot named Optimus, which was presumably a Transformers reference and previously known under the name Tesla Bot, was one of the major announcements at the AI Day 2021. Optimus’ reveal was viewed by some as a surprise, as they believed Tesla’s AI technology, and Project Dojo’s supercomputer, were solely aimed at developing self-driving cars. The FSD system is being beta tested in the USA and Canada from late 2020. Musk claimed that Tesla will increase the number of beta testers to 1,000,000 by 2022. There will be lots of data to analyze and form into improved self-driving models.
With all the environmental behavior knowledge and AI processing power available, it’s not so difficult for Tesla to also leverage these capabilities for other purposes. Self-driving cars are already a type of robot, so incorporating similar technology into a bipedal vehicle is not difficult. It could be very useful to have your car do mundane tasks like cleaning and lifting heavy items.
Musk stated that the humanoid robot could be “more significant than the car business over the course of time” and that eventually “physical work would be an option”. This was a hint at the Universal Basic Income idea, which has been circulating in recent years. It is a key tenet of Andrew Yang’s 2020 presidential campaign. This irony is especially striking right now, since Elon Musk has been encouraging employees to return to the office and is also contemplating laying off 10%. He would likely be happy to replace his factory workers by a fleet of Optimus-Tesla Bots.
Musk believes that the Optimus program has advanced enough to allow a prototype to be demonstrated by September. It was originally announced that the robot would be 5ft 8in tall and weigh 125lbs (57kg). It will also have the ability to lift 150lbs (68kg) and carry 45lbs (20kg) long distances. This could make it useful in helping to pick up stuff. Tesla claims that the bot will run at 5 mph. This should calm any fears about danger.
Although the Optimus Tesla bot was a final reveal at AI Day 2016, it may be a more central focus of the next AI Day. Musk promised “many cool updates” and more information on “Autosteer on City Streets”, which is currently in beta. Version 188.8.131.52 was released in May and included over 250,000 video clips to retrain the algorithm. The system frame rate has increased by 1.8 frames per seconds after the three older neural nets were removed. Beta testers often complain about the system’s inability to make decisions.
Musk has promised to lower the safety score required to be on FSD Beta to 95+ if the new update (FSD 10.2.2) is released to positive reviews. Currently, it is 98+ from 100. This should allow for a larger pool of beta testers. In October 2021, the original release required 100 testers. This was later reduced to 99. Beta testers will help train the model and make it more accessible to the public. The sooner the feature goes from beta to full adoption, the better. FSD could take years to expand outside of the USA and Canada due to culturally diverse driving styles and legal hurdles.
FSD will be the main attraction at Tesla’s AI Day in the short-term. However, Optimus’s prototype will likely be the main attraction of Tesla’s AI Day. This is because it is possible to show the prototype. Everyone who is interested in technology has had dreams of autonomous robots or nightmares about them. It is easy to imagine Musk performing on stage, showcasing the latest developments. Optimus and he may dance together or Optimus might climb out of a Tesla to pass Musk something (perhaps a spliff sent by Joe Rogan). It’s sure to be a spectacular spectacle in any case.