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The video shows how Tesla's new robot Optimus folds a shirt.

The video shows how Tesla's new robot Optimus folds a shirt.

Video: Watson/Michael Shepherd

January 16, 2024, 5:40 p.mJanuary 16, 2024 at 6:53 pm

In a new video, Tesla promotes its Optimus robot on X (formerly Twitter). The video shows the robot folding a shirt. Although you can see that the robot is still hanging on a cable for stability, the folding appears to happen completely independently. This would be an impressive demonstration, because although folding a shirt is relatively easy for us, it is quite a challenge for a fully autonomous robot. It's too good to be true, some users suspect and speculate that a human is controlling the robot remotely.

Tesla Robot Optimus folds a shirt

Video: Watson/Michael Shepherd

Shortly thereafter, Musk personally joined the discussion and confirmed that it was not an independent demonstration. However, it is not clear whether the robot is remotely controlled or is executing a pre-programmed action.

Tesla's CEO claims that the robot will be able to perform these and other actions completely autonomously in the future. However, Musk is known to make premature promises when it comes to his products.

Since 2014, Tesla cars have been announced with the ability to drive fully autonomously. In 2016, Tesla released a video to promote the technology. What was shown was a long car trip during which the driver did not even touch the steering wheel and, according to the video title, was only in the car for legal reasons. A former engineer later said the reality was a bit different. The car drove on a completely pre-programmed and defined route and the driver had to intervene during several previous test drives. During one of the tests, the car collided with a fence while parked.

Real product or marketing?

Since the announcement of the robot, many have been wondering how seriously Tesla is trying to build a robot. At the time, Tesla did not have a prototype, instead showing off holograms and a dancing man dressed as a robot. A subsequent video was intended to show how well the robot could walk, but was produced several times faster without any marks. The form factor of the robot is also worth talking about. The human form of the robot looks very futuristic, but robotics experts consider it somewhat suboptimal. Competition from Boston Dynamics, which has repeatedly impressed with videos of its Atlas robot that walks upright and jumps, is also moving away from this form factor. Their experiments have shown that it currently makes sense to build specific robots that can perform a specific function perfectly, which is why they often do not require walking on two legs.

Rolling instead of legs, Boston Dynamics' new “Stretch” robot is designed to load and unload trucks with boxes. Various drive systems were tested during development. Eventually, a mobile platform with wheels prevailed. Image: Cornerstone

It remains to be seen whether Tesla will completely overcome this hurdle and truly work on a marketable product or use the robot more as a marketing tool to stand out as an innovative company.


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