Tesla Robot: News, Rumors, and Estimated Price, Release Date, and Specs

Here's the prototype of the $20,000 Tesla robot

Unrealistic as it sounds (and might be), a humanoid robot that Telsa CEO Elon Musk says will one day be able to do "anything that humans don’t want to do," is apparently under development. The company calls the robot Optimus, and we've already seen the prototype.

When Will the Tesla Robot Be Released?

The Tesla Bot was first announced at Tesla's AI Day 2021, and the prototype (what Musk calls their "rough, development robot", pictured below) was revealed on September 30, at AI Day 2022. As bizarre as it sounds to have a live-in robot at your disposal to perform "repetitive or boring" tasks for you, it is a real product the company is working on.

A huge indicator this is something they're committing to invest in is that they're actively looking for help making it. There are several job listings on Tesla's website for engineers, managers, architects, and more to work on the Optimus team, so unlike the Tesla Phone and other ideas that have remained concepts, this appears to be a project they're really considering.

Assuming the Tesla robot will actually be available one day, there's still no telling when that might be. Are Musk and the team behind the robot interested in bringing it to life? It looks that way. But even if they are, managing expectations about a real release is important.

Like many companies with grand ideas, Tesla has a history of pushing back launch dates and making it seem like a really cool product is just around the corner. One example of this is the Tesla snake charger advertised in 2015, which several years later, Musk is still saying we'll see one day.

But if it means anything, Musk is on record saying he's hopeful that production for the first version of Optimus will commence in 2023. Long term, Musk says the robot "will be more valuable than the car." It'll likely start off as a factory product that assists in the production line and ultimately help with labor shortages, before maybe one day moving into our homes.

Lifewire's Release Date Estimate

Optimus was first seen in person at AI Day 2022, but that was just the prototype. While robotic assistance in factories might be available within the next couple of years, we're skeptical the robot is anywhere near ready for your home.

Tesla Robot Price Rumors

At AI Day 2022, Musk said "it is expected to cost much less than a car," and went on to guess "probably less than $20,000."

This sounds reasonable, at least for a first model. A robot meant to do anything on its own, even if it's menial tasks its owner doesn't want to do, will obviously carry a hefty price tag. With variation (if there will be any), depending on the model you choose, we can see this fluctuating a bit, and we wouldn't be surprised to see leasing options.

Elon Musk even suggests that the price will fall in the future:

Perhaps in less than a decade, people will be able to buy a robot for their parents as a birthday gift.
Tesla robot prototype from AI Day 2022

Tesla

Pre-Order Information

It's far too soon to be talking about pre-ordering the Tesla Bot, but when that time comes, we'll provide the link here.

Tesla Robot Features

Elon Musk says the robot will be friendly and can be used to eliminate "dangerous, repetitive, and boring tasks." Some of the job offers we found say the robot will automate tasks for manufacturing/logistics, but Musk has provided a second use case for home users, where it could be used to pick up groceries.

Optimus prototype watering plants

Tesla

Tesla bot prototype in an office

Tesla

Tesla robot working in a factory

Tesla

We can think of a few more examples. If it's used in an office, maybe it'll bring coffee from the break room into a meeting so an assistant can work on other meaningful tasks; or if there are paper reams in storage, the Tesla robot can be responsible for distributing them to the correct printers.

When used at home, it might take care of your yard, and even your grandparents, as Musk suggests in his piece, Believing in technology for a better future, in the Cyberspace Administration of China’s publication:

Tesla Bots are initially positioned to replace people in repetitive, boring, and dangerous tasks. But the vision is for them to serve millions of households, such as cooking, mowing lawns, and caring for the elderly.

The Tesla Bot is supposed to free up labor that you don't want to do yourself. Since we already have machines that help us do all kinds of tasks (think: vehicles, dishwashers, forklifts), where it'd really succeed is when AI is used. That way, it can learn and recognize what needs to be done, and then do it for you by completing those last-step actions (driving to the store to get something, loading the dishwasher, etc.).

Of course, a lot of these things are undoubtedly years away. The version of Optimus seen in the most recent demo is a semi-human-looking machine that can move things for you when asked. Maybe one day it'll be useful enough to meet you in the garage to help you bring in all the groceries you bought, but it'll start off as an asset for factory owners.

Morgan Stanley estimates that by 2030, to keep up with demand, Tesla will need to employ around 500k employees. The Tesla robot might be the company's effort to reduce cost and ramp up labor.

The combination of a tough labor market and a higher demand for workers to fulfill further growth places Tesla in a tough situation with an expensive marginal employee down the line. Long-term trends in labor inflation including the role of labor unions may also be taken into account. Optimus could align very neatly with Tesla's longer term aspirations by alleviating some of these concerns.

Tesla's robot usage probably won't stop at just warehouses, factories, and homes. With Musk's interest in humanity's future in space, it wouldn't be surprising for Optimus to be pitched as an ET dweller to fulfill his dream of building on Mars. This fall in line with the Starship program, which he says is "designed to extend life to Mars (and the moon)."

Musk says “Optimus ultimately will be worth more than the car business and worth more than FSD.” We hope to know more about the uses for the Tesla robot when we see the prototype.

Tesla Robot Specs and Hardware

To convince someone to buy a human-sized robot that walks on two feet and that could theoretically pick up an adult (up to 150 pounds), you have to really sell the idea of friendliness. Musk says it's built so you can "run away from it," and "most likely, overpower it."

For safety, Musk says it's important for the robot to have a localized chip that can't be updated remotely. And to be careful to make sure "this doesn't become a dystopian situation," he wants it to comply to anyone who tells it to stop doing whatever it is it's doing.

Tesla Bot specs

Tesla

The robot's max speed is said to be 5 MPH, and it stands 5'8" (173 cm) tall, and weighs 125 lb (57 kg), with a 45 pound carrying capacity.

However, like any concept and prototype, those specs might change drastically. It might end up coming in multiple sizes, or maybe you'll be able to purchase a custom Tesla Bot that can deadlift 300 pounds and walk 10 MPH. None of that has been discussed by Tesla or Musk, but it's not out of the realm of possibility.

At AI Day 2022, a version of Optimus that's closest to what will go into production was shown on stage:

Tesla robot latest generation and concept

Tesla

The Tesla Bot has a screen on its face that shows information, presumably a replacement for speaking. But, like a Tesla car, instead of eyes, there are eight "autopilot cameras" it uses to understand its surroundings. Within its chest houses the full self-driving (FSD) computer that powers the robot's every move, including Wi-Fi and LTE.

what the tesla robot sees

Tesla

In fact, other tools used in Tesla cars are also used by this robot, including multi-cam video neural networks, neural net planning, and auto-labeling. Musk says the same autopilot/AI team building tech for their cars is also working on Optimus.

Some other specs revealed during AI Day 2022 include audio support, hardware-level security, a 2.3 kWh battery pack, and hands with 11 degrees of freedom (a human hand has 27 degrees of freedom).

tesla robot AI Day 2022 latest gen specs

Tesla

The Latest News About the Tesla Robot

You can get more smart and connected news from Lifewire, but here are other related stories and some rumors we've found about the Tesla Bot specifically:

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