Get Ready, Elon Musk is Building a Robot

The Tesla CEO finally gets into humanoid robotics

Lance Ulanoff
OneZero
Published in
5 min readAug 20, 2021

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Elon Musk introduces the Tesla Bot (Credit: Tesla)

Up until the moment someone in a robot costume started gyrating on stage, I’d been thisclose to nodding off during Elon Musk and Tesla’s thus-far 90-minute-long AI Day presentation late Thursday night.

It was so dense, and so far in the weeds that even as someone who’s covered the tech industry for four decades and Artificial Intelligence (AI) for almost 20 years, I was struggling to keep up.

Tesla execs were there ostensibly to explain how the company is building its own world-class, industry-beating vision system for its Tesla Fully Self Driving System.

Eight cameras, a neural network, a deep dive into the system architecture, literal formulas on the screen. There was also a powerful computer for training the system, one that could help Tesla’s FSD drive without assistance, as it used (I think) simulations to understand complex environments.

Backing all this up is Tesla’s home-grown silicon and the Dojo Computer, what Musk and company termed the “Fastest AI Training Computer.” The system operates on Exaflops, each one is like 1,000 Petaflops.

I got the central point that Tesla’s FSB would be orders of magnitude better, faster, and maybe more intelligent than anything that preceded it. At the same time, my cranium felt close to bursting. So much technology for a relatively mundane task: driving.

Elon Musk, however, wasn’t done.

The Tesla Bot dancer

The robot dancer shuffled, twisted and tap-danced on the spartan stage until Musk shooed it away (I mused that it might have been Musk’s girlfriend, the singer and artist Grimez — a trained dancer — in that suit) and announced the “Tesla Bot” or, as one developer let slip, Codename “Optimus.”

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Lance Ulanoff
OneZero

Tech expert, journalist, social media commentator, amateur cartoonist and robotics fan.