Model 3

Elon Musk candidly shows how Tesla’s factory is balancing robots and human work

[Credit: MKBHD/YouTube]

Back in 2016, Elon Musk described that Tesla’s factory would be “the machine that builds the machine.” Speaking to investors then, Musk noted that the codename for the project was the “Alien Dreadnought,” a machine similar to the massive extraterrestrial crafts depicted in iconic sci-fi films. Musk noted then that the Alien Dreadnought would likely be operational in 2018, with the factory churning out the Model 3 en masse.

As the Model 3 production ramp has shown, getting the Alien Dreadnought up to speed with the company’s manufacturing process turned out to be a much more challenging task than Musk had expected. Amidst delays in the Model 3 production ramp, Elon Musk noted in an interview with CBS earlier this year that humans are “underrated.” Musk also mentioned this in the company’s Q1 2018 earnings call, when he described how Tesla learned that some aspects of the manufacturing process are best done by human hands.

A look into Tesla’s electric car production process at the Fremont factory was recently uploaded on YouTube by noted tech reviewer Marques Brownlee, better known as MKBHD. After his interview with Elon Musk himself, the YouTube host was given a tour of the Tesla factory, particularly the Model S and Model X line. Musk candidly discussed several aspects of the factory, including how Tesla’s robots are programmed and how their operations are integrated with human work. Musk also lightly discussed how he is fond of the Fremont factory’s “dumb robots,” which are easier to program and perform nearly without fault.

Brownlee’s Tesla factory tour with Elon Musk was brief, (MKBHD notes that Musk was eventually pulled into a meeting), but it showed something that has been hidden for quite a while now — it showed an Elon Musk that was funny, optimistic, and seemingly still full of wonder at how the factory is operating. Musk was cracking jokes in the interview, and his inner nerd was in full force as he described to the YouTube host how some of the facility’s robots are named after characters in Marvel’s X-Men series.

In a way, the Elon Musk who went on an interview and toured the Fremont factory with The YouTube host looked like a CEO who was tired and exhausted, but one who is still passionate at what he is doing. Elon Musk’s emotional and psychological state has been a particular focus in the media lately, particularly following an honest interview with the New York Times. Musk showed a notable degree of vulnerability in the Times interview, even admitting that the past 12 months have been the most difficult and painful year of his career.

Tesla’s critics were quick to pounce on Musk’s exhaustion and the vulnerability he exhibited during the interview. And in a way, they are right — Elon Musk is underslept, overworked, and deathly tired. But behind all this is a man who is still pushing hard to get his targets done. Elon Musk in the factory tour with Brownlee was evidently exhausted and overworked, but despite this, he still retains that wit, optimism, and sense of wonder that made him a household name over the years.

Watch MKBHD’s tour of Tesla’s Fremont factory with Elon Musk in the video below.

Elon Musk candidly shows how Tesla’s factory is balancing robots and human work
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