Elon Musk first announced his work on an AI-driven humanoid robot – at the time – called the Tesla Bot at the company’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Day event in August 2021. Nearly a year later, Musk showcased his much-touted humanoid robot, now “Optimus,” at the second AI Day event.
In 2023, Tesla showed remarkable progress on the Tesla Bot project through videos published on its official account. In May, Tesla showcased multiple Optimus robots walking around and learning about the real world. It highlighted that the robots can now pick up and identify different objects and also perform increasingly complex daily tasks without any assistance.
Tesla has now released a new update on Optimus with a video demonstrating Optimus doing new activities, including pick-n-place sorting of colored blocks and one-legged yoga balancing.
The 5 ft 8 in (173 cm) tall Optimus is powered by the same vision-based computers Tesla uses in its “Full Self Driving” Autopilot system. The Tesla Bot can now precisely locate its own arms and legs and calibrate their positions in space by simply looking at them. According to Tesla, this self-calibration system is helping the robot learn new tasks more efficiently.
One of the tasks the humanoid robot demonstrates in the new video is picking up a bunch of blocks and sorting them into matching trays. It can smoothly re-route its activities when humans intervene and move the blocks around, quickly adjusting to the new situation. Additionally, the robot can correct mistakes, such as when a block lands on its side and needs to be rotated.
The video also demonstrated Tesla Bot’s flexibility by performing some yoga poses that require standing on one leg and extending its limbs – the activity many humans would struggle to replicate. While these poses may not have any direct practical application, they do showcase the impressive body control and stability of the Tesla Bot.
Tesla isn’t talking about the production of the robot yet, but the video shows that it is making rapid progress.
In addition to Tesla, a Texas-based Apptronik is working to get general-purpose humanoids into the market. The company recently unveiled its first commercial humanoid robot designed for friendly interaction, mass manufacturability, high payloads, and safety.
Another company working on a similar project is Canada’s Sanctuary AI, which unveiled its sixth-generation general-purpose robot, Phoenix. The company demonstrated Phoenix for hundreds of different tasks identified by customers from over a dozen different industries.