Tesla is continuing its plans to create humanoid robots and move closer to self-driving cars. You can learn more about it on the company’s second AI day, scheduled for September 30. Expect some of the most advanced examples of artificial intelligence technology out there, even if they will take years more work to mature.
The Tesla Bota humanoid robot codenamed Optimus who is Chief Executive Elon Musk debuted on the first AI Day, is a likely star of the show. Last year we only saw specs, a mock-up dummy and a herky jerky dancing of someone wearing an Optimus outfit in a quirky attempt to illustrate what the Tesla Bot would look like. Musk has postponed the second AI day until waiting for a physical Tesla Bot prototype.
Tesla hires Tesla Bot engineers to make not only walking humanoid robots, but also wheeled models for factories, according to vacancies spotted by Reutersand Musk explicitly plans smashing events like AI Day to recruit employees.
Musk himself has worried about how puny we will be compared to superintelligent AIs that pose an “existential threat” to humanity, so don’t feel silly if you’re worried about bending the knee to our future robot overlords. However, with Optimus, Tesla tries to reassure us and sees the Tesla Bot as a helpful assistant. It showed an image of robotic hands making a heart shape on its Instagram page, promising,”If you can run faster than 5 mph, you’ll be fine.”
Sharing the spotlight with the Tesla Bot will likely be a much longer-running project, FSD Beta, Tesla’s technology to take its vehicles to full self-driving capabilities.
Here’s what you need to know about AI Day.
How do I watch Tesla’s AI Day?
The company hasn’t shared any details about tuning in to the AI event yet, but it probably will streamed on his YouTube account like the first Tesla AI Day. That’s what Musk has used for high-profile events for the automaker and two of its other companies, rocket maker SpaceX and brain-computer interconnect designer Neuralink.
What is Tesla planning with the Tesla Bot?
When Musk unveiled the Tesla Bot idea, he said it would be “friendly” and designed to handle “dangerous, repetitive, boring tasks” that a human would want to avoid. “In the future, physical work will be a choice. If you want to do it, you can, but you don’t have to,” he said.
As designed, the 125-pound, battery-powered, human-sized robot will move using 40 mechanical actuators, including 12 in its “human-level” hands. It will lift 150 pounds and observe the world with eight cameras.
It’s harder to make a humanoid robot than a crouched machine on wheels. Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot is a great example of how many years the research can take. But if you can get one to work, it’s conveniently configured to navigate and manipulate objects in a world humans have created for themselves.
Expect an Optimus prototype on Tesla’s AI Day.
What exactly is AI?
Artificial intelligence today generally refers to techniques of using giant stacks of real-world data to train computer systems to spot patterns, understand what’s going on, and make decisions. It’s a profound change from the narrow limitations of traditional if-this-then-that programming, focusing instead on the ability to grapple with a wider variety of tasks that are far more complex and subtle.
Big Tech is investing billions of dollars in AI for projects such as Google search results, Apple iPhone 14 photography, and Facebook’s system for choosing ads based on the text of our posts. It is progressing steadily, although it is still largely used for specific tasks and lacks the general capabilities of the human brain.
Musk helped find a lab called OpenAI that could use advanced natural language processing with a AI model called GPT-3 and has shown creativity by turning text prompts with another into illustrations AI model called DALL-E. OpenAI’s mission statement is “to make sure that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity.”
What is Tesla doing with AI?
Tesla is a major player in AI. The FSD Beta software is an example of that, but a Tesla Bot that roams our homes, responds to our commands, or moves boxes of bolts around a Tesla factory floor will also need to use AI.
One of the most difficult parts of AI is training the model, an effort that requires the computing power of a data center. It can take days or weeks to train advanced AI models.
Tesla built technology called Dojo to accelerate AI training focused on recording video data of Tesla cars. At its core are custom-designed AI processors that can be linked by the thousands in a single ‘exapod’. Expect to hear more about Dojo on AI Day.
To understand the input of video, objects in it, such as bicycles, the left arrows of traffic lights and stop signs must be labeled. That’s being done partly by humans and partly by other AI systems, and Tesla has invested heavily in car labeling.
Once an AI model is trained, other Tesla-designed processors in the company’s cars use the model to identify their environment and make decisions about how to drive.
What is the status of Tesla’s FSD technology?
FSD, abbreviation of Fully self-driving, is technology that by automotive industry standards is actually categorized as driver assistance systems. Tesla requires a human to pay attention and be ready at all times to take over from the computer if necessary, and enforces its policy of requiring the driver to often exert some turning pressure on the steering wheel.
FSD is an advancement over Tesla driver assistance technology called Autopilot, which only works on highways. But Tesla has struggled for years to deliver FSD to customers who have paid for it. In recent months, it has opened an FSD Beta program for drivers who achieve a high safety score, as judged by the Tesla cars that monitor behaviors such as hard braking or following other cars too closely.
In September, Musk released the software update to a much larger group of customers – 160,000 total FSD Beta testers, he tweeted. FSD Beta Version 10.69.3 scheduled for October “brings incremental improvements,” Musk also said.
Is a robot AI harder or easier than a car AI?
The same technology Tesla is developing for cars can be adapted for humanoid robots.
“Our cars are semi-conscious robots on wheels — neural networks that recognize the world and understand how to navigate the world,” Musk said on AI’s first day.
But the variety of situations a robot can encounter in a person’s house is much more varied than what a car encounters on the road, as are the tasks we could have it perform. A robot working in more limited circumstances, such as in a factory or warehouse, would be easier to train.