The Tesla robot slowly walks onto the stage at AI Day

Washington, DC

Tesla on Friday unveiled a prototype of a humanoid robot that it says could be a future product for the automaker.

Tesla’s robot named Optimus walked stiffly on stage at Tesla’s AI Day, slowly waving to the crowd and gesticulating with his hands for about a minute. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that for the first time the robot was operating untethered. Robotics developers often use lanyards to support robots because they are not capable enough to fall and walk without damage.

Optimus’ capabilities remain remarkably similar to what robots from competitors such as Hyundai-owned Boston Dynamics are capable of. Boston Dynamics robots have been seen performing backflips and sophisticated dance routines untethered.

“The robot can do a lot more than what we’ve shown you,” Musk said at the event. “We didn’t want it to fall flat on its face.”

Tesla also showed videos of its robot carrying boxes and watering plants with a watering can.

Musk said the robot would “probably” cost less than $20,000 if mass-produced. Tesla claims that Optimus advantage It will stand out from its competitors in its ability to navigate independently using technology developed from Tesla’s driver assistance system, as well as cost savings from what it learned about manufacturing in the auto division. (Tesla’s “Full Self Driving” requires an alert and alert human, ready to take over at any moment, as it is not yet capable of fully driving itself).

Tesla has a history of aggressive price targets that ultimately fail. The long-running Tesla Model 3 was promised as a $35,000 vehicle, but was only briefly available for purchase at that price, and not directly on its website. The cheapest Tesla Model 3 now costs $46,990. When Tesla unveiled the Cybertruck in 2019, its pickup truck, which is currently unavailable for purchase, was said to cost $39,990, but the price has been removed from Tesla’s website.

Tesla AI Day is largely intended to be a recruiting event to bring talented people into the company.

Musk said the robot could be transformative for civilization. The robot on display Friday, despite its limitations compared to its competitors, was a significant advance on what Tesla revealed a year ago, when a person in a robot suit jumped on stage and danced.

“‘Last year it was just a person in a robot suit,'” Musk said before the robot took the stage. “We have come a long way. Compared to that, it will be very impressive.”

Tesla is not the first automaker to develop a humanoid robot. Together with Hyundai’s Boston Dynamics, Honda worked on robots called “Asimo” for almost 20 years. In its final form, Asimo was a child-sized humanoid robot that could walk untethered, run, climb and descend stairs, and manipulate objects with its fingers.