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Forward-looking: Being a famous EV company, one would imagine that Tesla’s most important product in development would be a vehicle, but Elon Musk disagrees. The CEO believes that the humanoid robot codenamed Optimus is more significant to the business than anything else in its pipeline.
Speaking during Tesla’s earnings call on Wednesday, Musk called the robot “the most important product development we're doing this year.” That’s a bold claim, considering the highly anticipated Cybertruck, which now isn’t set to arrive until next year, is one of its products in the works, as is the second-gen Tesla Roadster. The $200,000 sports car aims to be the quickest production car in the world, with a claimed 0-60 speed of just 1.9 seconds. According to reports, it also might not ship until 2023.
Tesla unveiled the 5’8”, 125-pound robot during its AI Day conference last August. Musk said it would be able to move at around five miles per hour and be capable of performing tasks that are unsafe, repetitive, or boring for humans.
Tesla said it plans to use the same cameras from its Autopilot driver-assistance system in the robot’s head. Eventually, it expects that the AI used for its Full Self-Driving feature will it be implemented in the machine, allowing it to navigate the world and perform tasks without relying on line-by-line instructions.
Speaking on yesterday’s call, Musk added that the robot "has the potential to be more significant than the vehicle business over time." Asked about its initial applications, he said that it would likely be used at Tesla, "moving parts around the factory or something like that."
"The foundation of the economy is labor," he said Wednesday. "So what happens if you don't actually have a labor shortage? I'm not sure what an economy even means at that point. That's what Optimus is about. So – very important."
Musk said Tesla won't be introducing any new vehicle models in 2022 as it instead focuses on maintaining production output of its current models. He offered no specific updates on the Cybertruck, second-gen roadster, or the Semi truck.