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Tesla CEO Elon Musk on humanoid robot: 'There’s still a lot of work to be done'

Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk displayed the company's latest prototype of its humanoid bot, also known as Optimus, on Friday at the company's AI Day in Palo Alto, California.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done to refine Optimus and improve it,” the Musk said, saying at one point that Optimus would be available within three-to-five years.

Tesla CEO Elon Muks and a Optimus prototype. (screenshot/Tesla AI Day 2022)
Tesla CEO Elon Muks and a Optimus prototype. (screenshot/Tesla AI Day 2022)

Musk highlighted aims to develop the Tesla bot at speed and at scale at some point as the company's "rough development robot" walked, waved, and danced on stage.

“Optimus is designed to be an extremely capable robot but made in very high volume — probably, ultimately, millions of units," Tesla CEO Elon Musk said. "It is expected to cost much less than a car. So I would say probably less than $20,000."

The electric vehicle maker also showcased an iteration of its next-generation robot, which Tesla intends to produce with actuators and battery packs designed in-house. That robot did not walk on its own.

Humanoid robots are expected to initially be deployed in Tesla factories to carry out repetitive tasks, such as carrying items from one location to another. Musk eventually sees Optimus displacing human labor in other manufacturing settings and even extending to household chores or providing companionship.

"This, I think, has the potential to be more significant than the vehicle business over time," Musk said on an earnings call in January.

Tesla recently ramped up hiring efforts for its Autopilot and Robotics team with around 20 job postings for software and firmware engineers, deep learning scientists, actuator technicians, and interns. The AI Day event was aimed at recruiting new talent.

Tesla humanoid robot. (Tesla)
Tesla humanoid robot. (Tesla)

Some experts have expressed skepticism that Tesla will be able to deliver on its promises, given the particular challenges robots face in unpredictable situations as well as the company's record of delaying highly anticipated products, such as the Cybertruck.

Musk remained idealistic about what the company could accomplish using what it's learned from making cars and applying it to automated robots.

“We really wanted to show the depth and breadth of Tesla in artificial intelligence, computer hardware, robotic actuators, and really shift the perception away from just a car company,” Musk said.

Grace is an assistant editor for Yahoo Finance.

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