Can Elon Musk actually create a humanoid robotic as early as 2022?


Tesla’s synthetic intelligence convention on the finish of August ended with a surreal shock. A dancer in a good costume wanting straight out of the 80s started to mimic the jerky actions of an automaton, slightly kitsch prelude to the announcement of yet one more loopy mission by Elon Musk: the Tesla Bot. A humanoid robotic able to performing boring, harmful or strenuous duties for people.

Elon Musk criticized

Laid-back, the businessman mentioned Tesla would be capable to current a prototype humanoid robotic with none drawback as early as subsequent 12 months. However he had nothing to point out besides dance steps, and simply shared just a few technical specs.

If his followers have as typical reserved a hysterical reception, a number of robotics specialists have greeted the information with nice warning and annoyance. That is the case of Rodney Brooks, former director of the bogus intelligence laboratory at MIT and co-inventor of the Roomba vacuum robotic, in addition to the Baxter industrial robotic. A measurement. He tweeted a pithy message within the face of the enthusiastic reactions. ” I believe this mission won’t be a part of the historical past of the subsequent ten years. It will likely be understood that this was a very insignificant announcement.

Specialist journalist Evan Ackerman additionally signed a severe article for the very critical IEEESpectrum entitled Elon Musk has no concept what he is doing with the Tesla Bot. However the humanoid robotics specialists we consulted in France had been extra nuanced with regard to this mission.

A prototype rapidly conceivable

Let’s begin with the target of presenting a prototype in 2022. 1.76 meters, 56 kilos, the humanoid could have human dimensions. The issue is, Tesla would not publish scientific papers and nobody is aware of how lengthy their group has been engaged on the topic or what assets and skills they’ve. Despite the fact that the group doesn’t begin work till at the moment, the problem doesn’t appear fully insurmountable.

“We’re not ranging from scratch in terms of humanoid electrical robots”, estimates Olivier Stasse, analysis director at LAAS-CNRS (Laboratory for evaluation and structure of methods) in Toulouse. “If the Tesla group is impressed by what has already been carried out, and particularly machines like Digit from Agility Robotics, it’s doable to develop a prototype in two or three years. However for a primary mannequin, generally, it’s a must to iterate lots, like Boston Dynamics, to get to one thing ”, says the scientist. And he is aware of what he’s speaking about, since this specialist within the technology of anthropomorphic actions has labored for a number of years on the humanoid robotic Pyrene.

To go even sooner, we may additionally think about another choice. “It’s conceivable to develop a prototype that works in a single 12 months, in the event that they select to remotely function it by a human and provided that the engines are effectively managed”, says Serena Ivaldi, researcher at INRIA (Nationwide Institute for Analysis in Digital Science and Applied sciences). This specialist in human-robot interactions is experimenting herself with this path in Nancy, utilizing the humanoid Talos from Pal Robotics as an avatar of the human operator. This might tremendously simplify Tesla’s activity.

The inventor of the Nao and Pepper robots Bruno Maisonnier is much more optimistic in regards to the deadlines. “We had developed the Pepper prototype in lower than six months. So, sure, it’s doable to construct a prototype of a humanoid robotic in only one 12 months ”, he advised us.

Will the Tesla prototype be capable to accomplish feats from 2022? It appears tough. As a result of constructing the product isn’t the largest problem. The Tesla Bot is meant to maneuver as much as 8km / h, seize and deal with instruments, carry and carry heavy hundreds in an setting made for people and within the midst of people. The problems lie within the notion of the setting, the technology of actions and the upkeep of the steadiness of the machine.

Can Tesla reuse on its automotive know-how?

Elon Musk insisted on the know-how of Tesla groups when it comes to semi-autonomous electrical automobiles. “Tesla is arguably the biggest robotics firm on this planet as a result of our automobiles are semi-sensitive robots on wheels”, did he declare.

In response to him, the applied sciences embedded in his automobiles can simply be put to the service of the humanoid robotic: cameras, sensors or actuators. Additionally it is about recovering the all new Dojo synthetic intelligence drive chip and benefiting from the FSD (Full Self-Driving) system, that’s to say the autonomous driving laptop.

The Tesla Model S.

Additionally it is doable that Tesla overcomes the issue of the autonomy of this robotic. For Olivier Stasse, it could be doable for the humanoid robotic to have the ability to function for 12 hours in autonomy. And that he himself adjustments his battery each hour and a half.

Tesla has simple strengths on which it will possibly capitalize, similar to laptop computing energy, software program structure and actuation mechanics which can embrace some comparable rules. However it is going to be removed from enough.

A humanoid, it inevitably falls

Controlling a humanoid robotic may be very totally different from a automotive. “A highway is simple for a automotive to determine: it’s flat with two curbs”, Serena Ivaldi tip. “And when there may be an impediment, the automobile has the selection of stopping or avoiding it. Its route can also be straightforward to calculate. However the humanoid robotic performs totally different duties. The management and technology of those actions are additionally very particular. It’s the most tough platform to grasp ”, she provides. A floor that’s not completely degree can by itself disrupt the locomotion of a bipedal.

“A humanoid has 30 axes to handle in opposition to 4 for a automotive”, provides Olivier Stasse. “He has to keep away from every kind of collisions, beginning with himself … like sticking his hand in his head. Its steadiness can also be advanced to take care of when shifting. He is certain to fall. However the vital factor is that he’s in a position to rise up. The issue is, it will possibly break, as a result of it’s not as versatile because the human physique ”, he observes.

To be satisfied, simply watch the newest video from Boston Dynamics. The well-known firm has proven for the primary time behind the scenes of the exercises of its android Atlas. Earlier than culminating in a panoramic demonstration of some minutes the place the robotic jumps and jumps over obstacles with virtuosity, there are hours and hours of repetitions of the identical actions and constant falls.

Unimaginable to improvise a purchasing journey!

So, utilizing this robotic to do our looking for us on the native grocery retailer, as Elon Musk suggests, is downright not possible. Going from the consumer’s place of residence to a retailer he would by no means have visited, after having walked alone on the street in the midst of numerous unexpected obstacles is at present completely unthinkable.

Humanoid robots can at present solely function beneath managed situations and in a identified setting which assumes to have been beforehand modeled.

“Take the instance of a human who strikes a settee down the steps”, quotes Olivier Stasse. “He is ready to spontaneously lean on a wall to assist himself. To realize the identical consequence, the robotic ought to first have a illustration of the setting and concentrate on the presence of a wall. But additionally have algorithms already configured to generate the correct actions ”.

Elon Musk.jpg

Technological limits

In response to Bruno Maisonnier, the technological obstacles are sizeable earlier than sooner or later reaching helpful humanoid robots. “They are not but good sufficient or nimble sufficient to be helpful. Positioned in an actual setting, they don’t work very effectively ”, he emphasizes. “To hope sooner or later to transcend the prototype stage and market them on a big scale, we should overcome sure technological limits. Invent new engines. And progress within the area of synthetic intelligence with microchips that mimic the human mind, as a way to develop a real understanding of the true world ”. That is what the previous boss of Aldebaran is dedicated to doing together with his firm AnotherBrain, which is creating a brand new technology of bio-inspired synthetic intelligence specializing in reproducing the functioning of the cerebral cortex.

Within the meantime, we will at all times dream of the longer term functions of Tesla’s humanoid robotic. Bruno Maisonnier thinks of closed locations: customers’ houses, hospitals or retirement houses to start with. Serena Ivaldi goes additional. “We may finally think about utilizing this robotic as an alternative of people in contaminated or burnt areas, nuclear energy crops. It may additionally coexist with people in warehouses and factories performing complementary duties. And possibly even guarantee minimalist interactions with clients similar to delivering an Amazon bundle, for instance ”, she advances.

On Twitter, Elon Musk hinted that he may ship the Tesla Bot to Mars to wipe the plasters of this house journey as an alternative of people. So it might be a robotic that may take its first steps on the purple planet.


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