Founder and CEO of Tesla Motors Elon Musk speaks during a media tour of the Tesla Gigafactory plant, which will produce batteries for the electric vehicle maker, in Sparks, Nevada.

James Glover II | Reuters

Tesla may begin production of a humanoid robot known as Optimus as early as next year, CEO Elon Musk said Thursday.

The electric car maker first teased the robot, also known as the Tesla Bot, at its “AI Days” in August 2021, saying it would be a general-purpose machine capable of performing a wide range of tasks.

“We have the opportunity to be in production of the first version of Optimus, hopefully next year,” Musk said Thursday at the opening of Tesla’s new car assembly plant in Austin, Texas, where he took the stage – in a cowboy hat and sunglasses. to Dr. Dre’s “Still DRE.”

However, Tesla has not yet revealed a working prototype of the robot, and it is unclear how perfect Optimus is at this stage.

Musk argued that Optimus would eventually be able to do whatever people don’t want to do, arguing that it would lead to an “age of wealth”.

Speaking in a bullish tone, Musk also suggested that the robot “will change the world … to a greater extent” than the cars for which Tesla is famous. “It may be hard to imagine,” he said.

AI was seen as a potential threat to humanity, and Musk said in 2018 that he believes AI is more dangerous than nuclear weapons. “As long as you see how Optimus is evolving, everyone will make sure it’s safe,” he said Thursday. “No Terminators and things like that.”

He had previously said that Tesla was designing a robot so that people could run away from it or overpower it.

When Musk first announced the Tesla robot, he said it would be based on the same chips and sensors used in the company’s cars for self-management features. According to Mask, it is five feet eight inches tall and has a screen at head height for useful information.

Many people initially thought the bot was nothing more than an AI kit for Tesla, but Musk said in January that the robot is actually a top priority for new product development this year.

“I think over time it could become more important than the car business,” Musk said of the robot. The fact that he is now talking about production in 2023 shows that Optimus is a really serious job.

AI researcher and entrepreneur Gary Marcus told CNBC that he is willing to bet that no robot will be able to perform all human tasks until the end of 2023.

“Tesla didn’t even (after years of effort) come close to a reliable solution to one relatively simple task (driving); to claim that a robot that has never been shown publicly will solve all human problems in the next year or two is absurd, ”he said.

“He can send whatever he wants next year as he is the boss, but the first version will by no means come close to his ambitions if it is released so soon.”

Musk is known for his show art, in which he announces that Tesla is working on exciting products planned for years to come to activate fans, including employees, customers and investors. Often the launch of products is not on schedule.

For example, at the event “Autonomy Day” in April 2019, Musk said that in 2020 the company will have 1 million autonomous “robot taxis”.

And in October 2016, Musk held an event at the back of Universal Studios in Los Angeles to showcase a product he called Solar Roof. The exhibited solar tile turned out to be only conceptual.

– Additional report by Keef Lesving from CNBC.

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