Tesla has almost single-handedly transformed the electric car market, but when the company paraded a real person dressed up like a humanoid at an event in 2021, the world was less than convinced that it was about to do the same for robots. But almost two years on, Tesla’s Optimus looks, if hardly, production-ready, at least more credible.
A new video reveals just how much progress Telsa’s robotics team has made by showing the latest Optimus prototype sorting different objects into two trays, as it might in a warehouse or factory environment, and even flexing its yoga skills.
The clip opens with Optimus performing a self-calibration program on its limbs, using joint encoders and camera data to accurately place its arms and legs in space. With this done, it’s then able to identify and differentiate green and blue blocks on the table in front of it and sort the two sets of blocks into different colors. The robot even carefully turns one block through 90 degrees – and with surprising sensitivity – to make sure it’s facing upright in the tray, and has no problem adapting when a Tesla engineer tries to trick it by moving some of the blocks around.
advertisement scroll to continue
Daily chores done, Optimus is then allowed to relax with some yoga. The great advantage of robots is, of course, that they don’t ever need to relax or take vacations or ask for 40 percent pay raises, but this little segment shows how much better the robot’s balance is. We see it standing on one leg and stretching out its arms and legs. Yoga-buffs aside, there are plenty of people who can’t do that, and Tesla’s clearly trying to show us that Optimus won’t necessarily trip up and spill boiling coffee on your lap when you send it to get one 15 years down the line when we can buy these things as butlers.
The latest video follows on from another clip released in May of this year that showed Optimus robots walking slowly, recognizing their environments, and performing simple tasks. As we noted at the time, the bots don’t appear anywhere near as sophisticated as the faintly terrifying machines being produced by Boston Dynamics, but then Elon Musk suggested a bargain price of around $20,000 for Optimus. There’s a long road ahead, but if you currently work in an Amazon distribution center don’t expect to still be working there 20 years from now.