After months of hinting at what many assumed would be an extraordinary Tesla event, Elon Musk revealed the next great chapter in tech by unveiling…an underwhelming robot.
To compare & contrast, here is a robot by ASIMO (discontinued this year) doing much more than Tesla’s demo robot…in 2018.
Currently, Boston Dynamics is the front runner when it comes to advanced humanoid robotics, as this fun dancing video shows.
So with Elon Musk’s Tesla robot presently being outperformed by rivals years ago, why is launching a robot ingenious‽ Especially since comparing the Tesla robot to Boston Dynamics or even ASIMO is like comparing a toddler to an Olympic champion. The answer is found in Tesla’s target market.
Musk said he wants the robot to be manufactured at scale, sold for less than $20,000, and encompass core physical capabilities, such as the ability to move all fingers independently, and opposable thumbs with degrees of freedom so it can operate tools. […]
The company said it designed the robot with the same mass production targets in mind as when it would design a car, so the robot can be built as quickly as possible at scale. Tesla has said it could draw on the robot to perform tasks in its factories, which employ thousands of manufacturing workers.Washington Post
If Elon Musk can mass produce a robot that is “just good enough” to replace a simple factory worker, then companies will spend millions of dollars ordering these “dumb” robots at $20,000 a piece to replace factory workers who cost far more annually.
An inexpensive robot who does not need much (if any) rest, bathroom breaks, lunch breaks, vacations, pay raises, or complaints with the threat of lawsuits would seem like an ideal replacement for a human worker.
Elon Musk will probably attempt to test this out at Tesla first, which could lower the cost of electric vehicles below $20,000 (without sacrificing range).
This would enable Tesla not only to sell more vehicles to consumers but force rivals to purchase cheap robotic labor from Tesla, increasing the latter’s overall value.
However, this all depends on whether Tesla can create an affordable robot that is “good enough” to replace workers en mass, something no other company has been able to do outside of science fiction.
Images: From Tesla/Youtube via Teslarati, video of Tesla event below.