Elon Musk Is Apparently Very Serious About Building Human-Like Robots

A new article by the Tesla founder hints at a future filled with affordable bipedal machines

Tesla CEO Elon Musk contemplates during the official opening of the new Tesla electric car manufacturing plant on March 22, 2022 near Gruenheide, Germany. Musk has recently emphasized Tesla Optimus, a new humanoid-like robot, as his next focus.
Elon Musk: Contemplating our "Westworld" future
Christian Marquardt - Pool/Getty Images

Elon Musk has seen the future, and he’s betting on humanoid robots. The tech entrepreneur’s new essay in the magazine China Cyberspace places bipedal robots as a focal point in his goal to (as translated by Beijing Channel) “maximize the use of technology to help achieve a better future for humanity.”

Musk compares today’s cars to smart, web-connected robots on wheels, suggesting that his company’s announcement of a human-like robot (Tesla Bot, or Tesla Optimus as its most recently been named) in 2021 is just the beginning of a future where these ‘bots replace humans in repetitive and boring jobs, but also provide comfort to the elderly.

As for why he chose to create robots like humans, Musk offers this: “You may wonder why we designed this robot with legs. Because human society is based on the interaction of a bipedal humanoid with two arms and ten fingers. So if we want a robot to adapt to its environment and be able to do what humans do, it has to be roughly the same size, shape, and capabilities as a human.”

Musk says he plans to release a prototype for a humanoid robot this year, and hopes that in a decade production will ramp, AI will improve and prices will drop, allowing people to “buy a robot for their parents as a birthday gift.”

Although this robot obsession may seem rather sudden, Musk did announce on a January earnings call that “the most important product development we’re doing this year is the Optimus humanoid robot.” Beyond that, the company plans to share more details on our robot future during Tesla AI Day #2, which will be held on Sept. 30.

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