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Tesla’s humanoid robot could arrive this year — but I’m not convinced

tesla bot concept renders on gray background
(Image credit: Tesla)

Elon Musk is nothing if not ambitious, and he has some pretty grand plans for Tesla that involve more than just selling some of the best electric cars. Unfortunately, that means he’s also prone to making grand promises and failing to deliver on them in any meaningful way. His latest claims about the humanoid Optimus Tesla Robot feel like they fall into that category.

Musk made this claim over on Twitter (opens in new tab), which is pretty par for the course for the Tesla CEO. Apparently he’s moving the company’s ‘AI Day’ from August to September, with the aim of having a “working” prototype of the Optimus on show at the time.

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You may remember when the Optimus bot was announced at the last Tesla AI day, back in August 2021. Instead of a robot, Musk made the announcement by having a person in a spandex bodysuit do some over-the-top dance moves. Moves that every other humanoid robot we’ve seen so far, wouldn't be able to mimic.

Musk claims that the Optimus robot will be utilized to do all the repetitive, boring and dangerous jobs that human beings would rather avoid. Robots also wouldn’t need paying and can’t unionize.

Other promises include the claim that the robot will be “friendly," be able to carry 45lbs, deadlift 150lbs, move at a speed of up to 5 mph and has “Dojo Training." So one day you might be able to sign up for martial arts, and get your butt handed to you by a literal machine. All this is supposedly powered by Telsa’s full self-driving computer and Autopilot cameras. 

Who knows, maybe Musk can pull it out of the bag and create a functional humanoid robot before the end of the year. But the odds aren’t in his favor. 

For starters, development of humanoid robots has been going on since the beginning of automation, and so far we haven’t come close to anything remotely capable of human movement. You know that those would sell like hot cakes if they existed, especially to the military.

The best known examples come from Boston Dynamics (opens in new tab), which has been researching robots for well over a decade at this point. As advanced as those humanoid bots are, they’re still classified as experimental and are far from perfect.

Musk also has a long history of overpromising, and continuing to over promise even after breaking those promises. Those promises make headlines, after all, and they sound an awful lot better than him threatening to lay off 10% of Tesla’s workforce (opens in new tab), rallying against remote working (opens in new tab), the fact his quest to purchase Twitter isn’t going as planned (opens in new tab), or the pretty horrific Tesla wait times some prospective owners have to endure.

Honestly, it feels like these claims about Tesla’s Optimus robot are just more hot air, on par with his repeated claims that true autonomous cars will be ready within a year or so. The system may be called “self-driving” but that doesn’t mean it’s an accurate description. This is also the many that promised to put people on Mars within 10 year, as a “worst case scenario;" that was 11 years ago (opens in new tab).

Not every Elon promise gets broken, and his companies have achieved an awful lot. Especially in the electric car and private spaceflight industries. But I’m still not convinced the robot is going to be ready this year. Maybe someday, but not late 2022.

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.