Elon Musk said Wednesday on his company’s 4Q-earnings call (the EV maker beat top and bottom-line estimates) that “the most important product development” Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) plans for fiscal 2022, putting it ahead of the Roadster and the much-hyped Cybertruck, is its humanoid robot.
Musk first teased the Tesla robot, which is code-named Optimus, in August last year during Tesla’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Day, saying he hoped to have a prototype of the bot in 2022.
“I think it has the potential to be more significant than the vehicle business over time,” Musk said of the robot during the earnings call.
The Tesla boss, who thinks that if a humanoid bot can be programmed to perform a variety of repetitive activities that only humans can do today, it has the chance to transform the world economy by boosting productivity and economic growth, said Optimus would first be used on Tesla’s factory floors, “moving parts around the factory or something like that.”
Musk also said he considers the future robot as having “the potential to be more significant than the vehicle business over time,” adding that the “foundation of the economy is labor. Capital equipment is distilled labor.”
“So, what happens if you don’t actually have a labor shortage? I’m not sure what an economy even means at that point. That’s what Optimus is about, so [it’s] very important.”
Optimus is based on the same chips and sensors that Tesla’s electric vehicles use for self-driving features. It’s five foot eight inches tall, weigh 125 pounds, and have a screen for a face. The bot will feature 40 electromechanical actuators.
Musk, who has warned how we must be very careful as we create AI, has said the Tesla robot is “intended to be friendly,” but that the company is designing its machine at a “mechanical level” so that “you can run away from it, and most likely overpower it.”