Elon Musk unveiled a new “Tesla Bot” that will be capable of carrying out tedious, boring or dangerous work at the recent AI Day event. According to a 3D rendering and statistics, the robot would be five feet eight inches tall, weigh 125 pounds, and be capable of deadlifting up to 150 pounds or carrying up to 45 pounds.
Musk envisioned them working on Tesla’s factories or even carrying out difficult and dangerous tasks on Mars. The company made the Tesla Bot roughly human-shaped and bipedal so that it can “navigate through a world built for humans,” according to Musk. The human shape will also help with tasks like carrying a bag or working with tools made for humans.
He acknowledged the increasing discussion about the likelihood that robots will take many jobs that require physical labor: “In the future, physical work will be a choice. If you want to do it, you can. But you won’t need to do it.”
Musk also touched on the possibility that there would someday be household robots that can help with tasks like carrying bags of groceries. He suggested that Tesla could take the lead in this by creating “useful AI that people love.”
Musk has occasionally expressed concern about the possibility for unethical use for AI. He has funded research into AI in a bid to stay on top of the problem by getting it into the hands of people who can use it ethically. Tesla is also working on improving the AI used by the driver assist programs Autopilot and Full Self-Driving, partly by spinning up increasingly powerful supercomputers like the upcoming Dojo, which will be designed for machine learning.
The NHTSA has investigated claims about safety issues involving the Autopilot and is currently looking into a few crashes involving both emergency vehicles and Tesla vehicles with the Autopilot engaged. Tesla says that misuse of its driver assist programs could have been a factor in some incidents, which is backed up by instances in which drivers abused the system, including one Tesla owner in California who was seen riding in the back seat of a driverless vehicle.
He emphasized that the Tesla Bot would be friendly and make use of some of the same AI technology that is used for Tesla’s driver assist programs. In a reply to a tweet, Musk suggested that the bots could be mass produced for labor on Mars. His ultimate goal with SpaceX and its development work on the Spaceship spacecraft is to create a sizable and growing settlement on the red planet.
Musk said that the Tesla Bot could be ready for production as early as next year and start by carrying out some basic tasks that workers tend to dislike. However, don’t expect it to turn into a speedy or especially agile robot like the ones seen in the movie version of Isaac Asimov’s “I, Robot.”
“You could run away from it or possibly overpower it” if something goes wrong, Musk joked.