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Don’t panic, you should be able to overpower or at least outrun Tesla’s first robot, if things go wrong, the company’s boss Elon Musk reassured the world this week, but you if you’re a tradie, it could be after your job.
The announcement of the Tesla Bot came at the conclusion of the car maker’s AI Day event in the United States on Thursday, which showcased upcoming tech to be rolled out to the all-electric brand.
The audience was introduced to a slim, faceless, black-and-white-coloured humanoid robot with surprisingly good dance moves only to be told by Musk that it wasn’t real (it was an actor in a suit), but that the actual prototype will be very real and look just like it when it arrives in 2022.
“Tesla is arguably the world’s biggest robotics company, because our cars are like semi-sentient robots on wheels. It kind makes sense to put that into a humanoid form,” Musk said.
Standing 172cm tall and weighing 57kg, the Tesla Bot will be able to deadlift 68kg and carry 20kg. That’s neither a small nor weak robot, but Musk assured attendees that it would be designed to be friendly and if things got bad, you’d be able to overpower it or outrun it… maybe.
“It’s intended to be friendly, of course, and navigate through a world for humans and eliminate both dangerous and boring repetitive tasks,” Musk said.
“We’re setting it at a mechanical and physical level so that you can run away from it and most likely overpower it. Hopefully that doesn’t ever happen, but you never know. ”
Musk says the Telsa Bot will be able to run at five miles per hours (8km/h).
“If you can run faster, it’d be fine,” he said.
The Tesla Bot will have a screen in the place of its face should be and run a version of the Autopilot self-driving system, which is used in the company’s vehicles.
“It’s got eight cameras, a full-sized driving computer and makes use of all of the same tools that we use in the car.”
The biggest challenge Musk says is ensuring that the robot is intelligent and autonomous enough to follow general instructions and carry out tasks.
“Things that I think are really hard about having a useful humanoid robot is can it navigate through the world without being explicitly trained? Without explicit line-by-line instructions?” Musk said.
“Can you talk to it and say, ‘please pick up that bolt and attach it to the car with that wrench’. It should be able to do that. And, ‘please go to the store and get me the following groceries.’ That kind of thing. I think we can do that.”
Musk went further and suggested that if robots like his become widespread, then the implications for the human workforce and economy could be monumental, even requiring a universal income to support tradies who could find themselves out of a job.
“This, I think, will be quite profound, because if the economy at the foundation is labour, what happens when there is no shortage of labour? That’s why I think long term, there will need to have a universal basic income… but not right now because this robot doesn’t work – we just need a minute.
“Essentially physical work in the future will be choice, but you won’t need to do it, and I think this has profound implications for the economy.”
Tesla isn’t the first car maker to venture into robotics. Most recently, Hyundai Motor Group bought Boston Dynamics, the company which makes Spot the autonomous robotic security dog and Atlas the humanoid robot with amazing parkour skills.
As for when you’ll be able to buy a Hyundai Bot or a Tesla Bot, you can trust this robot-obsessed writer to keep you updated.