CEO of Tesla and newsmaking tech tycoon Elon Musk says that his automobile manufacturer is working on a humanoid robot to be used in its factories and that the company is likely going to build a prototype “sometime next year.”
According to The Verge, the humanoid robot will take advantage of Tesla’s experience with automated machines in its factories, as well as some of the hardware and software that powers the company’s self-driving vehicles.
Musk, who is famously anti-AI, especially of the two-legged and supercomputer variety, says that the Tesla bot is “intended to be friendly” but just in case, Telsa is manufacturing a machine at the hardware level so that “…you can run away from it, and most likely overpower it.”
The proposed machine is to be 1.5 meters tall and weigh around 56kg – about the size of a teenaged child – and have a screen for a face. The robot’s code name within the company is “Optimus,” likely a nod to the leader of the benevolent robots in the Transformers line of media.
At Telsa’s factories, Optimus and robots like it will be designed to handle “tasks that are unsafe, repetitive or boring” and not much else, according to the company’s website. At least at first. The company is also currently seeking mechanical, electrical, controls and software engineers to “help us leverage our AI expertise beyond our vehicle fleet.”
“I think essentially in the future, physical work will be a choice, if you want to do it you can,” Musk said.
Musk is famous for ideas that often border on science fiction, especially with Tesla. The company has several projects that were announced but never panned out. Projects like a solar-powered Supercharger network and a robotic snake-style charger for its vehicles were both left on the cutting room floor.
It’s up to time to tell if Musk’s future-minded approach will work out with the Telsa bot, or if it will become another futurism-inspired idea left behind.