The last time Elon Musk publicly debuted a prototype of his humanoid robot, Optimus could “raise the roof” and wave at the politely enthused crowd attending Tesla’s October 2022 AI Day celebration. While not as advanced, agile, handy, or otherwise useful as existing bipedal robots, the “Bumblebee” proof-of-concept certainly improved upon the company’s first iteration—a person dressed as a robot.
On Wednesday night, Musk surprised everyone with a two-minute highlight reel posted to his social media platform, X, showcasing “Optimus Gen 2,” the latest iteration on display. In a major step forward, the now sleekly-encased robot can walk and handle an egg without breaking it. (Musk has previously stated he intends Optimus to be able to pick up and transport objects as heavy as 45 pounds.)
Unlike last year’s Bumblebee demo, Tesla’s December 12 update only shows pre-taped, in-house footage of Gen 2 performing squats and stiffly striding across a Tesla showroom floor. That said, the new preview claims the third Optimus can accomplish such perambulations 30 percent quicker than before (an exact speed isn’t provided in the video) while weighing roughly 22 lbs less than Bumblebee. It also now includes “articulated foot sections” within its “human foot geometry.”
The main focus, however, appears to be the robot’s “faster… brand-new” five-fingered hands capable of registering and interpreting tactile sensations. To demonstrate, Optimus picks up an egg, transfers it between hands, and places it back down while a superimposed screen displays its finger pressure readings.
The clip does not include an estimated release window or updated price point. In the past, Musk said production could begin as soon as this year, but revised that launch date in 2022 to somewhere 3-5 years down the line. If Optimus does make it off the factory line—and onto factory floors as a surrogate labor force—it will enter an industry rife with similar work robots.
During Tesla’s October 2022 AI Day event, Musk expressed his belief that Optimus will one day “help millions of people” through labor contributions that aid in creating “a future of abundance, a future where there is no poverty, where people can have whatever you want in terms of products and services.”
Musk previously offered a ballpark cost for Optimus at somewhere under $20,000—although his accuracy in such guesstimates aren’t great. The company’s much-delayed Cybertruck, for example, finally received its production launch event last month with a base price costing roughly one Optimus more than originally stated.