On Thursday 19 August, electric vehicle producer Tesla outlined its next steps in its artificial intelligence (AI) strategy in a live streamed ‘AI Day’ with founder Elon Musk giving an overview of AI products beyond its fleet of vehicles.
Tesla Bot was one of the futuristic creations revealed by Musk, with the 5ft 8in humanoid robot stealing the show at Tesla AI Day 2021.
The huge event popular with investors and fans of controversial crypto guru Musk came as the US government announced it would be investigating Tesla and 765,000 EVs made since 2014 following growing numbers of crashes involving the company’s vehicles.
Key to the investigation will be the role played by Tesla’s ‘autopilot’ driver mode in crashes, some of which involved parked emergency response vehicles, across the US.
News of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s probe into the entire Tesla model range saw Tesla stock drop from $717.17 (£521.52) on Friday 13 August to $665.71 (£484.10) on Tuesday 17 August.
Tesla’s share price on Friday following the AI event and reveal of the Tesla Bot was still down by 15.52 points (2.25%) as of 7.30am.
Here’s what you need to know about Tesla Bot and the biggest headlines from Tesla AI Day 2021.
What is the Tesla Bot?
Musk revealed the slick new Tesla robot at the company’s AI event as “what’s next for AI beyond our vehicle fleet”.
The 5ft 8in lifelike model designed to ‘eliminate dangerous, repetitive, boring tasks’ weighs approximately 125lbs, can deadlift 150lbs, or roughly 68 kilograms, and has a carry capacity of 45lbs.
Made from lightweight materials, the bot has axis feet to provide more fluid movement and balance, human-level hands, a facial screen for information and is packed with 40 electromechanical actuators converting electrical battery energy to mechanical energy.
Musk added that the company was designing the Tesla Bot to be “friendly” but also easy to “run away from” with a likely movement speed of around five miles per hour.
He said: “Basically, if you think about what we’re doing right now with cars, Tesla is arguably the world’s biggest robotics company because our cars are like semi-sentient robots on wheels.
“With the Full Self-Driving computer and Dojo and all the neural nets recognising the world, understanding how to navigate through the world, it kind of makes sense to put that on to a humanoid form.”
The bot will be built by humans to “navigate through a world built for humans,” he added.
When is Tesla Bot being released?
Musk was fairly vague on the release of the Tesla Bot prototype.
“We think we'll probably have a prototype sometime next year,” Musk said at Tesla AI Day on Thursday.
This would mean the debut of the Tesla Bot in 2022.
But the founder is known for his less accurate timing for Tesla product releases.
Speaking at Tesla’s Autonomy Day in 2019, Musk admitted after pledging to have Tesla robotaxis on US roads by 2020 that a “fair” criticism of the founder was that “sometimes I’m not on time.”
What was Tesla AI Day?
According to a tweet from Elon Musk, “convincing the best AI talent to join Tesla is the sole goal” of AI Day 2021.
The event was designed to highlight the company’s forays into more artificially intelligent (AI) technology and software to improve its hardware and systems currently under scrutiny like Autopilot.
The AI sector seeks to advance intelligent computer systems which can either perform single tasks according to a single objective or, in a more general ideal scenario, act and make decisions independently from human control.
‘Autonomy Day’ was first held by Tesla in 2019 as an investor relations event which saw Musk signal the arrival of Tesla ‘robotaxis’ on roads in the US in 2020, but these have not materialised yet.
Robotaxis would let Tesla vehicle owners identify times and days for their vehicle to be hired by a passenger as an automated taxi service, with the vehicle driving and delivering passengers independently without a human driver.
What else did Musk announce at Tesla AI Day?
The company’s major AI event also saw the reveal of Tesla’s much-awaited computer chip which will be used to train the company’s Dojo supercomputer, also revealed in more detail on Thursday.
The D1 chip created in-house by Tesla’s existing AI team of developers and engineers was described by Tesla director Ganesh Venkataramanan as “state of the art” and will allow the company to work with its own proprietary hardware.
Musk also revealed that the company’s plans for their Full Self Driving (FSD) system built on the company’s Dojo supercomputer will not be limited to Tesla vehicles alone.
While later confirming that Tesla software and hardware is unlikely to become open source at any point, Musk spoke of encouraging other vehicle producers to license Tesla software and run it in alternative EVs.
The Dojo supercomputer is said to improve Tesla’s existing FSD software accuracy by processing “truly vast amounts of video data” thanks to its neural network, according to Musk.
Neural networks describe the process of layering algorithms in deep learning systems to replicate the structure of the human brain, teaching machinery to learn from experience as we do.
The company’s AI director, Andrej Karparthy, said that Tesla’s growing neural network proficiency will see computer vision issues reported in the controversial Autopilot system resolved.