Elon Musk says Tesla's very real robot will soon have a very real prototype

As usual, Elon Musk’s promises are big, but the details are sparse.

@RMac18 via Twitter

Elon Musk says that Tesla will have a working prototype of its humanoid robot “Optimus” (also known as Tesla Bot) by late September. On Tuesday, during an interview at the Qatar Economic Forum, Musk relayed that Optimus is coming along. “We have a very talented team at Tesla that I’m working with closely to have a prototype humanoid robot ready by the end of September,” he said. But before you brace yourself for armies of Muskian robots taking over the globe, consider the mogul’s penchant for big promises and lackluster delivery.

Humanoid robots — The project was originally announced at Tesla’s AI Day in August 2021 — along with a bizarre dance performance by a human dressed in a white jumpsuit. Musk has said Optimus "has the potential to be more significant than the vehicle business over time" and according to him, the purpose of these robots is to do "anything that humans don’t want to do." Musk is apparently so convinced of the robot’s usefulness that — as reported by Electrek — he decided to prioritize the robot over vehicle innovation in 2022.

And when the Technoking hasn’t been making and reneging on deals to acquire Twitter, he’s been hyping his grand robot plan to anyone who will listen.

“Essentially in the future, physical work will be a choice: If you want to do it you can, but you won’t need to do it,” Musk said in 2021. The billionaire’s lofty claims were met with immediate skepticism — and memes.

Tesla Bot’s a moonshot — Will Optimus ever see the light of day? In the words of The Washington Post, "Tesla has a history of exaggerating timelines and overpromising at its product unveilings and investor presentations.” But that hasn’t stopped Musk from promising.

Currently, Tesla is toying with laying off thousands of its employees. It’s trying to “shift the entire energy structure” of Earth; its cars’ Autopilot software is being investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration after fatal crashes; it’s losing big on Bitcoin; and it hasn’t built much of a reputation for follow-through. With that many fires to put out, it looks like it’s Musk’s cue to don the white jumpsuit, climb up on a stage, and do some distracting dance theatrics of his own.