The Tesla Bot: Explained!
This is not a drill. This is a thing that really just happened, and a lot of things come to mind when hearing that so lets get into it now the two things that might have come to your mind when hearing that, like me, are number one: why tesla of all companies and Number two: why a robot human of all things, but if you frame it a certain way, it actually can make a lot of sense. But you got to break a few things down first to get there so lets get there. So tesla tesla is a car company. Mostly you know, ive reviewed their cars weve seen their announcements, theyre factories, maybe well call it a vehicle company. They have a truck, they have a bunch of other stuff, but they have a factory that makes cars so theyre. A car company, but only like by that specific definition, its actually pretty common to look at tesla as a software company uh, just because their software advantage and all the things that they do with the software in their cars is so important to them. Its like theyre. A software company that happens to make electric cars, and so when you compare to the mercedes of the world or the audis of the world or bmws, i would never describe those companies as software companies but for tesla thats, where their main advantages and so part of This software thing that theyre doing is this self driving project.
Okay. Now, aside from all the massive missed time, windows and over optimistic promises and deadlines, and things like that, their self driving is currently as it is today, some of the most advanced in the world and its not because of high resolution mapping or predetermined routes. Its because teslas are using their sensors and or mostly cameras at this point and constantly scanning their environments and making thousands of little on the fly decisions in real time and then all of the miles driven with this autopilot in action is used to upload the data. Back to their servers and train the whole rest of the fleet, so its this whole. This whole system is a constantly self improving thing. The bigger it gets, the faster it can continue to get better. So this requires a lot of computing, a lot of horsepower to be frank and a lot of smart code and thats. What teslas been really good at so tesla had their ai day a couple days ago. You might not have heard about it, but they do this. Every year they live stream, a bunch of talks from tesla engineers about computer vision and how their neural networks have evolved over time and explaining their focus on making autonomous cars that rely on computer vision and their synthetic visual cortex. Its really great lots of informative, complex stuff, and at this years they unveiled their new custom d1 chip, which is this chip thats, designed and built entirely in house by a car company, which is specifically made to train teslas, full self driving algorithms based on driving footage.
Even faster and theyre, basically going to be replacing all of their gpus theyre currently using to make this super computer designed to do computer vision, machine learning, its big stuff, and so at some point during all of this elons on stage talking – and he says something about To the effect of tesla is basically a robotics company. Uh tesla is arguably the worlds biggest robotics company, because our cars are like semi sentient robots on wheels and, if you think about it, its like okay yeah, i could, i could see that i mean obviously tesla tesla builds cars, so well call them a car company. Still but like if its teslas ai day and theyre, giving a presentation and theyre trying to make as good of a show as possible for recruiting purposes, theyre going to call it robots. So they happen to make robots that are on wheels, but yeah thats thats. How you can get it to make sense mentally its like all right, yeah self driving cars is just one application of ai and computer vision and robotics just to just to solve that problem. So thats whats happening its a bunch of sensors scanning its environment, making a bunch of decisions based on that and then training future versions of it based on what happens. Thats just whats happening in self driving cars so that i can see making sense then elon right, afterward, said this uh it it kind of makes sense to put that on to a humanoid form.
He says it makes sense to make these robots in a humanoid form, and that is where i disagree. So this is the newly unveiled tesla robot, its its called teslabot, its a five foot: eight 125 pound sleek. Looking like black and white human shaped robot. With this face mask with a screen on it, its got hands with you know full 10 fingers its got feet, but with no toes its pretty slow. It has a max speed of 5 miles per hour so that you can outrun it and then it can lift things up up to 10 pounds with the arms extended or it can dead, lift 150 lots of cameras and actuators and of course, the full self driving Computer inside so theyre saying its going to be easy to overpower or run away from, so that should never be a concern uh, but the main purpose. The purpose of this tesla bot the thing that they kept saying over and over again on stage during the presentation and during q, as when theyre asked about it, they kept defaulting to it, will be able to do tasks that are repetitive, dangerous or boring so that Humans dont have to, and so, if you buy, if you buy tesla as a robotics company, then yeah this makes sense its just another robot that will use the sensors to scan its environment and make a bunch of decisions and navigate around this world that its in But the thing that i have to say – and this is going to come with a caveat – that im of course not a robotics engineer – im, not an expert at this but heres, my take the human form is very inefficient.
Now dont get me wrong. Humans were pretty great right, were very accomplished species and were very complex and weve done a lot of things well, but they work as a body so well because number one, our brains, are amazing, but number two, because weve built this world around us that we live In mostly with ergonomics designed for humans, but when its not designed for humans, like this upright bipedal thing, thats balancing all the time, its not very efficient, we just did a retro tech episode about this about humanoid robots, so ill link it below. If you havent already watched it its its a super fun one, but we did a lot of talking with people and experts about this and it turns out if you want to make a robot to take over a task. You typically dont want to build it. Like a human, you want to build it for a single task and make it as efficient as possible at that one task, so pop culture forever has been obsessed with humanoid robots. Like i cant even count, all the instances of humanoid shaped robots in movies and tv shows over the years that we found its something weve been fascinated with since the beginning of time. Theres endless versions of it. But it turns out the ideal way to make a robot vacuum the floor, for you is not to build a human sized shaped robot that pushes around a vacuum its to make the robot the vacuum.
The vacuum is the robot. You dont want a humanoid robot standing at the sink washing dishes. For you, the dishwasher is the robot like thats, the single purpose built robot. Tesla knows this: you dont have a humanoid shaped robot sitting in your car driving the car. For you, the car is the robot. The self driving car that drives itself has already been done, so the list of things you would want a human shaped robot for is pretty small, because labor is typically not designed around the human form. The one example they kept giving over and over in their ai day presentation was grocery shopping, so they, you know, you walk to the grocery store. You grab a cart or a basket, and you pick out some items and put them in the basket. I guess thats, you know you need a bunch of different peripherals and things to pull that off, and maybe a human shaped robot would be fine for that, but theres not a whole lot else. I can think of like even when i picture the most simple boring tasks like making a bed or building a table like when i picture a robot. That would be especially good at that i dont picture a human shaped one. I picture one thats super focused and super efficient, maybe im just short sighted, but i remember when i talked with elon at the factory a couple years ago about all the things that they do with robots versus the couple of things left that they still do with Humans, he had a really interesting answer, so some parts of it are like 80 to 90 automated and then some parts of it are like uh, only 10 to 20 or what are those? What are those parts that humans do better than humans are really good at adaptation, um and rapid evolution, and like doing like little like finicky.
Things like like that, um its like, like trying to connect uh a hose thats like sort of dangling around i see and and and youre like the robots like gon na, find the hose grab it like then connect it to another hose at that point, its like. Really hard yeah, like a person, can just go. Ah theyre done gotcha yeah. That makes a lot of sense, yeah and its like. When you see it its like wow, its super super obvious, and then we try to have robots. Do this and its like robots like grabbing the wrong thing and like stick it over here and theyre like oh, the the the hose was here when the rover thought it was here, and so now it like tries to grab air and then like smashes into the Car, its, like you, dont, want that we yeah it was the comedy of ours, uh, tragedy of ours, so yeah all that all that really made me think like with as good as tesla is with self driving. Why would you want a humanoid, a human shaped robot, to try to do things that humans are already good at? How long is it going to take for that robot to actually get good at things that humans are good at, and you know what the best way to answer that would probably be to look at the most advanced robotics company that i can think of at the Moment, which is boston dynamics, so theres like theres, two very different, uh types of humanoid robots that ive seen exist in this world on one end, its like the dumb single purpose thing you see at ces like these are the barely functional robots.
You see that can really do only a few things: decently: well, theyre kind of cheesy, looking theyre human shaped for no reason, but they exist and then, on the other end of the spectrum, theres boston dynamics, atlas and man. I wish when i was out there. I could have seen atlas in person because just the dog spot is already impressive enough, like its got the sensors, it has a basic level of understanding scanning its environment and it can be programmed to do dangerous or boring or repetitive things and go places that humans Wouldnt go, and we say dog because theyve called it spot and its kind of looks like a dog. If you make it behave, the right way, sometimes, but really its just a quadruped, any four legged animal would do but atlas, on the other hand, well! Well, i havent necessarily seen it do anything specifically useful yet, but seeing that five foot human shaped robot navigate the world in crazy ways is something else i mean i did share a new video of it. Uh doing parkour and elon seemed very impressed, but even after all, these years of development and the history of how much weve seen it get better atlas is not a robot thats going to be on sale for people to buy anytime soon, and if you ask them About it, theyll tell you its just them experimenting with their computing in a new form factor, and so, at the end of the day, my take teslabot probably wont exist anytime soon either.
You know, i know they said on stage. There would be a prototype. Maybe next year i uh, i kind of doubt that theyre gon na leapfrog boston dynamics in the next two years, but then heres the other thing, even if they do come out with it. Tesla right now is training their self driving computers with billions and billions of miles of self driving happening on the streets today right so the best way to get as much data about that as possible is to have it go out in the real world and do It its kind of genius actually that theyre making so many cars and people are really using it for them. But now theyre going to be asking for a humanoid robot to go out and navigate the entire rest of the real world where theres an order of magnitude. More stuff to identify and react to, like i mean on the streets, theres, obviously other cars and trucks and buses, and it can identify motorcycles and bicycles and pedestrians even and then theres, traffic, cones and theres lights and all the rest of the traffic control devices. Construction zones arrows on the road, its kind of starting to run out, thats almost it. But how well is the tesla bot going to do when you ask it to go, get bananas from the grocery store like really like? How good could it get or if you ask it, hey uh teslabot go grab my airpods max from downstairs.
Is it gon na be able to know that thats headphones or is it gon na have to have a model of every new pair of headphones? That ever comes out to be able to identify which one youre talking about and all of this training thats you can see where im coming from all this training has to come from real world data, which i guess would have to come from people using tesla pots. In their homes and starting to get this going, which seems a little less likely to me than uh people getting a self driving car and then theres just a whole bunch of other unknowns about this robot too uh. What other colors will it come in? Will it come in matte black? How does it charge? Will it just sit on a usb port in the corner of a room every day i dont know. Will this ever even go on sale, and i dont know if its really even about this robot going on sale as much as it is just about honestly, it could really just be tesla, exploring their computer vision in another form factor just like boston dynamics, its just About tesla becoming the best ai and computer vision company that they possibly can, and this being just one more avenue to get better at it. So theres no good reason i can think of for a humanoid robot to exist out there in peoples hands anyway. But hey makes a lot of good headlines its obviously something weve been fascinated with forever and will continue to be for a long time, and it could just be one more form factor that teslas exploring and also one of they ever said, no to a good free Pr opportunity so anyway, thats about my thoughts on it im super curious.