Industry and Academic Experts Comment on Tesla’s Optimus Humanoid Robot

On September 30 at a Tesla AI technology event, Tesla introduced multiple versions of its Optimus humanoid robot, including a model designated as a production version, which Elon Musk noted he hoped would eventually sell in the millions for under $20,000 each.

IEEE Spectrum posted a fascinating compilation of comments on Tesla’s new humanoid from roboticists in industry and academia. As reported by IEEE Spectrum, “Reactions across the robotics community were diverse. Because robotics requires expertise in many different aspects of both software and hardware, getting a good sense of the present context of Tesla’s robot as well as its future potential means finding perspectives from a multitude of robotics experts, including people working in industry and academia and everywhere in between. And by scouring the Internet over the weekend, we found as many expert commenters as we could. Together, they offer the most detailed and nuanced understanding of Optimus we’re likely to get outside of Tesla itself.” Some excerpts:

Dennis Hong, Professor, UCLA The energy and excitement at AI Day 2 was amazing. “AI Day” is actually a recruitment event, and in that sense I believe the event was a big success. I am aware of critics who say that the prototype had nothing new that they haven’t seen elsewhere, and that there are other, more impressive humanoids. There are also people who have doubts about the aggressive timeline Elon had proposed, and I do not necessarily disagree with them. That being said, I am a true believer of the future with humanoid robots and their eventual applications; that they will be used in our everyday lives “one day” and make our lives better. And for that to happen, we need to start somewhere and project Optimus is just that. What was most impressive to me was what the Optimus team was able to accomplish in such a short period of time. If you are in this field, you would agree, too. The prototype they have created will serve as an excellent beginning platform for them to learn from and to build upon. I would say this is their good first step towards something big—if Tesla truly commits to put its resources, time, and efforts into it long term. The company has great engineers, and with the newly recruited talents, I am even more excited to see what they’ll be able to accomplish next.”

Kate Darling, Research Specialist, MIT Media Lab. 
“The sense I’m getting is that Optimus isn’t as bad as people thought, but also, nobody [in the robotics community] is very impressed or surprised by any of the tech.”

Siddhartha Srinivasa, Director of Robotics and AI, Amazon. 
“My take on the Tesla Bot: You’re not as good as you think you are. You’re also not as bad as they think you are.”

For a variety of additional insights on Tesla’s Optimus, please visit IEEE Spectrum. Images courtesy of IEEE Spectrum, CNET and