Tesla aims to ship a few Optimus units in 2025. The humanoid robot’s utility is the one barrier Tesla is still working on with Optimus.
“You know, Tesla is arguably already the biggest robot maker in the world; it’s just a four-wheeled robot. So, Optimus is a, you know, a humanoid robot with arms and legs. It’s by far the most sophisticated humanoid robot that’s being developed anywhere in the world. I think we’ve got a good chance of shipping some number of Optimus units next year. But like I said, this — this is a brand-new product,” said Elon Musk during the recent TSLA earnings call.
In December 2023, Tesla posted an update on Optimus via X. The post showcased Tesla’s Gen 2 Optimus prototype, which featured an updated design including humanlike hand movements and a lighter body weight.
Gen 2 also features updates to Optimus’ neck and arms, thanks to custom-designed actuators and sensors. Tesla’s updated humanoid robot could also walk 30% faster than its previous siblings, partly because it is 10kg lighter.
But one question remains: What can Optimus actually do?
“Just to comment on the barrier. I think the barrier, and we’ve talked about this, is like getting it to actually do something useful. Like, we can get it to walk around, we can get it to do things, but it’s like, that utility part,” noted a Tesla executive during the recent earnings call.
Elon Musk noted that Optimus can do some useful tasks. The Tesla exec agreed with Musk’s statement but suggested that the company needs to increase its utility to make a million Optimus robots.
Tesla has shown Optimus performing some tasks that would come in handy in the future, like carrying stuff from one area to another and folding laundry. However, Tesla has noted that Optimus can not perform tasks like folding the laundry autonomously. Tesla’s Optimus robot still has some progress to make for it to meaningfully contribute to society.