Tesla Promised a Robot. Was It Just a Recruiting
Pitch?

Tesla Promised a Robot. Was It Just a Recruiting Pitch?

A human replicating a robot, which might one day replace humans, was the highlight of an AI-focused event.

The Tesla recruitment presentation ended Thursday night when a person in a tight white suit, their head encased in black, robot-walked onto the dark stage. The person started to Charleston, as techno music played. The individual did the running man. They waggled their shoulders, and then extended their arms in jazzhands. Alright. Thank you,” CEO Elon Musk said an eternal-seeming 40 seconds into the freestyle, cutting off the dance.

The person represented a robot, what Musk alternatively called Tesla Bot and Optimus (“sub prime,” he joked). Someday–“sometime next year,” said Musk, the eternal optimist–a prototype of the robot will perform “boring, repetitive and dangerous” tasks. Musk stated that the robot would employ the same technology as advanced artificial intelligence to allow cars to drive on their own, though they can only perform simple tasks like changing lanes or navigating parking lots. Musk stated that the robot could have “profound consequences for the economy.” He then got to the point.

The Thursday AI Day presentation was broadcast live on the Internet from Palo Alto. It featured all of the same trappings as primetime Tesla spectacles. AI Day was intended for geeks, those who may be involved in the tech aspects of the company. The whole event was like a fancy job fair. By minute two of the slide-laden presentation, Tesla AI director Andrej Karpathy was deep into the sort of talk usually confined to university classrooms and corporate conference rooms, and had displayed a schematic of a neural net on screen. Another slide was shown shortly after the robot made its debut. It pointed viewers to a website where they could apply for jobs. The presentation was still watched by close to one million viewers on Tesla’s YouTube channel, despite it ending at 11:59 ET.

AI Day could have been called the urTesla event. It combines innovative technology and the bombastic goofiness that comes with wearing a robotic suit. This is all to hype a product that will not be around for a while. The combination will allow Tesla to tackle one of its most difficult tasks: finding AI engineers for a market that is stretched.

Past promises made in presentations are now forgotten. More than two years ago, Musk said that there would be 1 million Tesla robotaxis on the road by the end of 2020. Tesla cars can still not drive themselves, so the technology relies on humans to monitor the vehicle’s movements on the roads. Meanwhile, a new and cutting edge battery first detailed during last September’s Battery Day event has hit production speed bumps, Musk said on an earnings call last month, and may not be ready for the debut of a new Model Y later this year. This would further delay Tesla’s promised cost reductions, and its long-pledged dream of a $25,000 electric car.

The presentation also dodged mention of a preliminary investigation opened by federal regulators last week into Autopilot, Tesla’s controversial advanced driving assistance feature. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there have been at least eleven instances in 2018 when Teslas using Autopilot crashed into vehicles on roads. One person was killed and 17 were injured. According to the company’s manual, it is possible for the system not to brake on stationary vehicles. Experts claim these systems are designed to identify moving objects and not stationary ones. This is partly to prevent false positives which could lead to abrupt stops. It is possible that more than 700,000.00 Model S, X and Y will be affected if the recall investigation results in a positive.

At the Tesla AI Day on Thursday, a person in a tight “Teslabot” suit gets down. Elon Musk stated that a prototype for the Tesla bot (codenamed Optimus) will be ready “sometime next-year.” It will be 5’8″ tall, weigh in at 125 pounds and can travel up to 5 miles per hour. He joked that if you run faster than this, it will be okay.

Tesla

Musk’s deputies got into the details of Musk’s company’s technology and promised a future where a Tesla could actually drive itself. The company sells a “full-auto-driving” add-on software for between $5,000 and $10,000 every year since 2015. It now has a $199 monthly subscription. Karpathy described a creative but innovative approach for combining information from eight vehicles’ cameras into one neural network. Ganesh Venkataramanan (a senior director for Autopilot hardware) giggled while he demonstrated a nine-petaflop training chips that will be powering its supercomputer. It is capable of processing images up to four times faster than other competitors. The company’s virtual-reality simulations allow it to train its cars in virtual reality, away from the public road. Presenters also demonstrated Tesla’s hyperrealistic simulations. Presenters said that Tesla has employed 1,000 workers to label 371 million images simulated by the company’s data labeling efforts. This will allow them to turn these images into instructable moments for their machines.

Although the Tesla robot has been the most talked about, it seemed like the weakest part of the presentation. Musk responded to a question about the difficulties of creating a robot humanoid with five fingers. However, he suggested that two fingers and one thumb would work for simple tasks. But, “for the moment, we’ll give the bot five fingers to see if it does okay.” The bot will probably succeed.” A member of the audience noted the low pay for repetitive tasks and asked about the economics involved in building the robot and selling it. He pointed out a crucial point. While humanoid robots can be great for GIFs and other entertainment, they have struggled to find work in real life. Musk chose a tried and true technique, a mystery copout. He said, “Well, you’ll have to just see.”

Will Knight was a contributor to this report.

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Publited Fri, 20 August 2021 at 17:33.22 +0000

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