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Tesla could start selling Optimus robots by the end of next year, Musk says

By Akash Sriram

(Reuters) - Tesla's humanoid robot is still in the lab, but it may be ready to sell as soon as the end of next year, chief executive Elon Musk said on Tuesday.

Several companies have been betting on humanoid robots to meet potential labor shortages and perform repetitive tasks that could be dangerous or tedious in industries such as logistics, warehousing, retail and manufacturing.

Musk told investors on a conference call that he guessed the Tesla robot, called Optimus, would be able to perform tasks in the factory by the end of this year.

Humanoid robots have been in development for several years by Japan's Honda and Hyundai Motor's Boston Dynamics.

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This year, Microsoft and Nvidia-backed startup Figure said it had signed a partnership with German automaker BMW to deploy humanoid robots in the car maker's facility in the United States.

Billionaire Musk has said before that robot sales could become a larger part of the Tesla business than other segments, including car manufacturing.

"I think Tesla is best positioned of any humanoid robot maker to be able to reach volume production with efficient inference on the robot itself," Musk said on the Tuesday call, referring to the artificial intelligence abilities.

Musk has a history of failing to fulfill bold promises to Wall Street. In 2019, he told investors that Tesla would be operating a network of "robotaxi" autonomous cars by 2020.

Tesla put out the first generation of its Optimus robot, dubbed Bumblebee, in September 2022. This year, the company posted a video of a second generation of the bipedal robot folding a T-shirt at the firm's facility.

Figure's video released in February of its 01 robot shows it making coffee, while Boston Dynamics last week unveiled an electric platform for its Atlas humanoid robot, which was seen twisting and turning from a lying down state to standing and walking.

(Reporting by Akash Sriram in Bengaluru. Editing by Gerry Doyle)