Elon Musk plans to sell humanoid robots to ‘replace human workers’

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Tech billionaire Elon Musk has said he wants to mass produce Tesla’s AI-powered Optimus humanoid robots, the machines that could one day replace human workers, and sell them for under £18,000 within three to five years. It comes after he unveiled the robot prototypes at Tesla’s office in Palo Alto, California, on Friday. Mr Musk has previously said the robots, which Tesla has reportedly been developing for over a decade, could one day replace human workers in the production line in Tesla factories. The world’s richest man has also said that these Optimus bots could also one day surpass Tesla’s revenue raked in via electric vehicle (EV) sales.

Mr Musk has said the innovations could help to push Tesla to the forefront of artificial intelligence (AI) which the bots are powered by, making the firm more than a company which just manufactures “cool cars”. 

Speaking at the unveiling at Tesla’s AI Day presentation,.Mr Musk said: “There’s still a lot of work to be done to refine Optimus and prove it.” He later added: “I think Optimus is going to be incredible in five or 10 years, like mind-blowing.”

and he claimed that the would cost “less than a car”. But currently, the prototypes are not perfect, with plenty more to be done before the robot helpers function to their full potential. Mr Musk said: “There’s still a lot of work to be done to refine Optimus and prove it. I think Optimus is going to be incredible in five or 10 years, like mind-blowing.”

The prototype was wheeled on stage and people were then shown a video of the Optimus bot carrying out simple tasks like watering plants, carrying boxes and lifting metal bars.

Mr Musk has argued that the robots could even lead to a “fundamental transformation of civilization as we know it”. In fact, the Tesla CEO envisions a world in which AI-powered humans could carry out a whole range of tasks to help humans with everyday life, from caring for the elderly to posing as domestic assistants. 

Named after the famous Transformers series, it is expected that the boost will initially perform the more boring or dangerous jobs, including moving parts around at Tesla factories.

Speaking at Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting last month, Mr Musk said: “It will, I think, turn the whole notion of what’s an economy on its head, at the point at which you have no shortage of labour.”

At the previous Tesla AI Day last August, Mr Musk said: “In the future, physical work will essentially be a choice. If you want to do it you can, but you won’t need to do it. It has profound implications for the economy, given that the economy at its foundational level is labour.”

But so far, existing humanoid robots on the market are “missing a brain”, according to Mr Musk, meaning they do not have the ability to solve problems on their own. He claimed his own Optimus robot on the other hand would be an “extremely capable robot” that Tesla hopes to make in the millions. 

For instance, he claimed that his bots will have conversational capabilities and feature safeguards to avoid any wrongdoing by the machine. 

While Mr Musk, who is also CEO of SpaceX, which makes rockets that he wants to one day take humans to Mars on, is optimistic about the potential of his robots, some experts are more sceptical. 

Will Jackson, CEO of robotics company Engineered Arts, told The Verge: “We still have fundamental robotics technology gaps that need to be solved before we will see ‘human level’ anything. 

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“Maybe Tesla [has] solved it — if they have, it will be an absolute game changer — however, it feels unlikely as it would be a great leap forward out of nowhere.”

But Telsa’s exciting announcement has come at what appears to be a difficult moment for Mr Msuk. According to reports, the world’s richest man’s wealth is set to plummet as much as $8 billion  (£7.14billion) when US markets open today. 

It is expected to see an eye-watering share price drop of around $54billion (£48billion) from its market cap after Tesla’s delivery numbers were far lower than what analysts expected. 

According to Refinitiv data, the firm was forecast to sell around 359,000 vehicles between July and September this year, but produced over 365,000 and delivered only 343,000. The company blamed the shortfall on the boosted completion of cars towards the end of the quarter.

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