Remember that time Elon Musk dressed an intern up in lycra and swore that Tesla would build a robot? That project, now called Optimus, is nearing a deadline at the end of the month — Tesla’s second AI Day, just over a year after the bot’s initial announcement. To meet its goal, and have a working prototype by the end of September, the robot project has pulled engineers from the company’s AI and Autopilot wing. Musk has promised on the record that he’ll build catgirl robots. It can’t just be catgirls though, right?
A delve through Tesla’s recent job postings helps shed some light. Not only has the company cribbed Autopilot engineers for Optimus, it’s going on a hiring spree for the bot project. The company’s goal is to “build humanoid bi-pedal robots at scale to automate repetitive and boring tasks” — which sounds a lot like the jobs performed in a vehicle manufacturing facility.
Tesla is hiring across the board for its robot endeavor, from internships up to program managers, engineers, and even a Mechatronics Technician, which is objectively one of the cooler job titles out there. Nearly all of these positions involve the terms “scale,” “capacity expansion,” and “millions of humanoid robots around the world” — Tesla clearly sees a market for Optimus.
But what will those buyers actually be looking for? ASIMO never found a market, and Boston Dynamics’ bipedal robots haven’t gotten the same horrifying dystopian government contracts as its gun dogs. Does Tesla think robots are needed to be restaurant dishwashers? Sentient catgirl sex dolls? Or just another way to automate assembly-line tasks, without retooling those lines to accommodate purpose-built bots? Personally, my money’s on the latter. Maybe the catgirls will be exclusive to Elon.