What’s weirder than Elon Musk’s oddly shaped cyber-trunk? That’s easy. The name of his child nothing beats that martian sounding name with its non-Roman spelling. It’s no wonder, people, like me, thought there was no way he could top that. Except he recently did. Now his company is selling a Terminator lookalike-the creepiest bot the human mind can ever conceive
Although it’s being called a humanoid robot it’s only human in the very vaguest sense of the world. One could say it’s a Tesla in the shape of a human. Only its silhouette outline looks human-this is nothing like the creatures from Almost Human or any of those specialist adult-focused robots we have seen being made.
Based on the concepts and images produced by Musk, this robot was specifically designed to look like a robot and is not meant to fool anyone into thinking it’s anything else but a robot. It’s metallic and kind of looks like the refined and smooth version of the Terminator robot. It also comes with specs meant to reassure you that it’s not going to take over the world:
- It’s a bit average in terms of height at a 173 cm tall which means it will not be looking down at you
- It will weigh 57kgs which is basically average for most people
- It can walk at speeds of about 8 km/hour even I can run much faster than that.
- It can carry stuff of up to almost 70kgs which makes sense as it’s meant to be a helper robot of some sorts
NB The robot is in early development so a lot of things might change. However, it seems Tesla is making this a deliberately tame human helper of sorts.
The reviews in the aftermath were quite harsh. A lot of people waved away the presentation as nothing but a publicity stunt from Elon Musk. It doesn’t help that often, the Tesla leader, often makes lavish promises which are often toned down when products come. Tesla’s autodrive is still raw, Starlink is facing some hurdles and his indestructible truck crumpled after being pelted on stage.
The truth though is there is a market and use case for his bland robot. First, we have to admit that Tesla is indeed a robotics company. They have made strides in the AI industry that is the constant envy of their rivals. Their cars are genuinely robots on wheels and thanks to their neural network, they are constantly improving in this area. I wouldn’t know about them being the biggest robotics company or whatever but they do know their AI and robotics.
The Tesla Bot might not be what specialist industries need but I think it can be the PC of bots and bring about a mini-revolution in the home and small business market. Imagine having a Tesla Bot helping you with things like washing the dishes, vacuuming your home, cleaning the bathroom, folding your laundry, doing some routine panel beating, changing tyres at a local garage, deep car cleaning etc.
The truth is there are already specialist tools for each of the tasks I mentioned above. The problem is they are specialist tools that do only one thing. The Tesla Bot promises to be a general bot that can do “mindless, boring, repetitive and dangerous” tasks with little training or programming. This would make it ideal for homes and small businesses.
Naturally part of its success will depend on how well it can be reprogrammed and in no small part how much it will cost. People are also put off by its humanoid shape and some have called it stupid and inefficient but look at us humans. As bipeds, we still manage to live meaningful and productive lives.
I think giving the robot a humanoid shape is actually a genius idea. Given its intended market a human-like shape can be quite psychologically reassuring. What would have been horrifying is if the robot had looked too human. There is something unnerving about looking and dealing with a human that’s not a human. Making it look too industrial would not jive well with the home and small business settings.
People are being dismissive but Elon Musk’s Tesla company has in the face of all hurdles, proven itself over the years. It might prove it’s critics wrong again with the Tesla Bot.