Tesla has already produced 10 of its humanoid robot Optimus, its CEO Elon Musk said on the Q2 earnings call yesterday.
He added the humanoid will be put to walking tests in November this year and is expected to undergo practical tests in a Tesla factory next year.
Tesla’s inroads on humanoid robots have been a focus of attention for the public, leaving many observers wondering when the prototype will be able to achieve improved motion intelligence and even reach mass production.
Musk said yesterday that demand for these robots is immense, echoeing remarks he made earlier.
He once said the proportion of humanoids to humans will be 1:1 one day. At the AI Day in March this year, the Tesla Bot already exhibited way better performance in force and motion control than when it made its debut last year.
Next year, Optimus will be subject to tests within Tesla factories and be assigned more “meaningful” work to do, said Musk.
That said, Tesla still faces daunting challenges in its humanoid project, especially the inability to scale its production.
Likewise, humanoid robot developers worldwide face an issue of undercapacity, as humanoids are costly to build, and it’s tough to reduce the costs by simply leveraging the economies of scale.
Besides, the lack of breakthroughs in core components also get in the way.
For example, the mass production of Optimus is bogged down by a lack of actuators that fit Tesla’s requirements.
Musk said the actuators have to be customized and none of its suppliers is able to manufacture the actuators the robot needs.
“So we have to design and manufacture by ourselves,” he said on the earnings call.
Musk, however, said the design of actuators will be completed in November.
Actuator is one of the most critical parts of a robot, as it determines its payload and accuracy, said Gao Yunpeng, an expert on EV and innovation.
Actuators is to a robot what power batteries are to NEVs, he added.
Tesla’s Optimus has 40 joint actuators all over its body, 28 on its torso and limbs and another 12 on its fingers.