From the concept release to the “real person” demonstration,TeslaIt only took more than a year to break into the field of humanoid robots. On October 1, Beijing time, Tesla held its 2022 AI Day event in Palo Alto, California. CEO Elon Musk and the team of Tesla engineers appeared at the venue, and the prototype of the humanoid robot “Optimus (Optimus)” walked to the audience with a slightly hobbled pace and waved, opening its world premiere.
Musk said at the scene that Optimus Prime’s walking is still unstable, but the robot currently displayed is only a product initially developed by the team, and its actual progress is more than that. “The output of Optimus Prime should reach millions of units. The price is much cheaper than the car, and the final price will be under $20,000, and it will be available in mass production in three to five years.”
“The performance of Tesla’s humanoid robot today is different from the previously released video footage. Its highlight lies in the simulation of the initial combination with Tesla’s FSD (Full Self-Driving) system, which is better than other The robot is stronger, but its posture balance and flexibility are still limited. However, this does not prevent Tesla from doing better in the future, and this conference will also attract more talents to participate in the research and development of humanoid robots, which can change the The cause of the appearance of human society.” On October 1, Shenyang, director of the Metaverse Culture Laboratory of the School of Journalism, Tsinghua University, accepted the Beijing NewsshellFinancial reporters said in an interview.
It is worth noting that although there is still a big gap between the performance of Boston Dynamics, which is the leading technology, the estimated price of “Optimus Prime” is only 1% of the Boston Dynamics Atlas robot. , if the price becomes a reality, it will undoubtedly open up the imagination for the humanoid robot market.
Car-making experience is used in robot engineering technology, and the dynamic performance of hard core still needs to be strengthened
The curtain opened, and a humanoid robot walked out slowly. It first waved to the audience, and then simply swayed its body along with the rhythm of the music. Although the walking posture still seemed stiff and clumsy, it was undeniable that this made the humanoid human. Robots are once again standing in the historical spotlight.
According to the information provided by Tesla to Shell Finance reporters, the “Optimus Prime” body has a total of 28 degrees of freedom, adopts a spring load design and 6 types of actuators, and adopts a bionic joint design to simulate the shape of human joints and tendons. The hand is ergonomically designed with 11 degrees of freedom. In terms of “sensation”, Tesla’s computer vision can be directly applied to robots after being verified by the actual application of the fully autonomous driving capability system.
Know almostCertified as “MilletRen Haoyu, senior hardware engineer of science and technology, said that the overall hardware architecture of “Optimus Prime” is based on the traditional humanoid robot hardware architecture of large battery pack + motor drive + rigid metal transmission + series-parallel joint distribution + vision/force/position sensor, which is similar to Boston’s. The powered humanoid robot Atlas belongs to two completely different hardware architecture schemes. The advantage of this hardware architecture is that it is stable, controllable and easy to implement. Relatively speaking, the implementation cost is low and the technology is mature. , it is difficult to support high dynamic and large-scale sports performance.
It is worth noting that Tesla has applied a lot of car-making experience to the design of the “Optimus Prime”. It is equipped with a 2.3 kWh, 52V battery pack in the torso, highly integrated charge management, sensors and cooling system. “This means that everything from sensing to fusion to charging management is brought together into this system, which also draws on our experience in car design.” The Tesla engineer said.
Ren Yanyu believes that batteries are where Tesla has done very well. “It should be the technology that reuses its electric vehicle batteries, which is a dimensionality reduction blow.” In his opinion, Tesla has achieved today in one year. The degree of Optimus Prime’s prototype is very hard-core in terms of engineering technology, especially in dexterous hands, waist freedom, hardware simulation platform, binocular vision, etc., which have done very well in a limited time. However, the athletic ability and control algorithm shown by “Optimus Prime” at the press conference are very basic and basic, and “Optimus Prime” has not yet been able to benchmark the Boston Dynamics Atlas.
In terms of the “brain” of “Optimus Prime”, that is, the artificial intelligence system, Musk introduced that its central computer uses the same FSD computer as Tesla vehicles and neural network technology related to automatic driving. The live screen shows “Optimus Prime”. When doing work such as watering flowers, transporting, etc., the visual field is similar to that of human beings.
Tesla told Shell Finance reporters that “Optimus Prime” “learned” humans through motion capture. Taking carrying items as an example, Tesla staff input actions through wearable devices, and robots are trained through neural networks, from completing the same actions in the same place to evolving solutions in other scenarios, so as to learn to operate in different environments. Carry different items.
Shenyang told Shell Finance reporter that “Optimus Prime” is combined with the FSD system to build a three-dimensional virtual space-time scene for simulation through the three-dimensional perception of things in the real world, and then to do actual actions in the real world. The strength in this area should be stronger than other robots.
Is the $20,000 price a “gimmick”? Can Musk be a “disruptor” in the robotics market
Musk gave a timetable for the landing, production and wide application of “Optimus Prime” on the spot: a prototype in 2022, a useful presentation (scenario) in 2023, and a small-scale application in the fastest two years. Shell Finance reporters noticed that compared with the current robot companies on the market that have a research and development time of more than ten years or even more than twenty years, the research and development plan announced by Musk is very radical.
At present, the world‘s more well-known humanoid robots include Boston Dynamics Atlas, Honda’s ASIMO (Asimo),SoftBankPepper (Piper), the Digit and Cassie biped robots (no Chinese names yet) launched by the American startup Agility, etc. In China, there are Ubisoft’s Walker prototype, as well as the Tieda launched by Xiaomi not long ago.
Among them, Honda’s Asimo robot has been unveiled as early as 2000. Its smooth walking method once shocked the world. However, due to the complex technology and expensive development costs, Honda stopped the update of Asimo in 2018. In March this year, Asimo Robotics has announced its retirement.At present, the world’s recognized leading company in humanoid robot technology isGoogleInvesting in Boston Dynamics.
However, humanoid robots have always been expensive. A single unit of Honda Asimo is worth $2.5 million, and a single unit of Boston Dynamics Atlas is worth $2 million, and they have not been commercialized. Agility’s Digit robot is priced at $250,000 a set, and will ship about 40 to 60 units in 2021. Xiaomi’s iron price is expected to be 600 to 700,000 yuan, but mass production is not yet possible.
From this point of view, the “Optimus Prime” is said to sell for as low as 20,000 US dollars, which is only 1% of the Atlas, which will be very competitive in the humanoid robot market.
Shenyang believes that if the price of the most simplified version of Optimus Prime can be around RMB 150,000, the market competitiveness will be amazing. According to him, the cost of bipedal walking humanoid robots developed by domestic companies is about 500,000 yuan, which is the price of manual assembly. To reach 150,000 yuan, the cost pressure is still very large. “Tesla’s control of hardware costs is worth learning from.”
However, there are doubts about whether the “Optimus Prime” can achieve such a low price. Ren Yanyu believes that the “Optimus Prime” prototype is in line with technical development expectations, but it is lower than capital market expectations and seriously behind the public’s expectations, “At present, I don’t think it has reached the stage of mass production. .”
In addition, compared with industrial load-carrying robots and robotic arms that have been put into real life and generate economic benefits; service industry food delivery robots, surgical robots; special industry inspection robots, fire robots, etc., the real commercialization of humanoid robots requires cost reduction. , the current technical level also has a gap with practical application.
In this regard, Shenyang said in an interview with Shell Finance reporters that the commercialization of humanoid robots needs to have two characteristics: First, it is not easy to be damaged. “Get up” two options, but really let it “walk”, only one million steps can be accepted, which takes a long time. The second is that a humanoid robot can complete a specific task without human intervention, such as moving bricks, picking up couriers, operating machines, etc. Only then does it have the value of improving productivity.
The significance of humanoid robots: will change the status quo of human family and society
Musk said that the first batch of “Optimus Prime” robots serve dangerous, boring, repetitive jobs or jobs that people don’t want to do, mainly for enterprise-side applications; the second batch of robots for large-scale use, allowing robots to operate in Navigating the real world, doing useful things without explicit instructions; the third batch of robots is expected to allow people to use at home in less than 10 years.
From the perspective of robot manufacturing cost, according to OfweAccording to ek data, in the cost composition of industrial robots in 2021, the cost of core components reducer, servo motor and controller will account for 35%/15%/15% respectively.
Soochow Securities believes that although humanoid robots have a more advanced intelligent perception system (including environmental perception + human-computer interaction) than industrial robots, the cost ratio of its motion control level is similar to that of industrial robots. According to this ratio, the space of core drive components is predicted. In 2025, the incremental space for servo motors, reducers and controllers will be 17 billion, 39.9 and 17 billion yuan respectively.
In the future, if humanoid robots can enter the home, the space for imagination and the economic benefits of leveraging will be even greater.
“The function is achieved and the price is right, the market space of humanoid robots is very amazing.” Shenyang said, taking China as an example, if every family buys one, 400 million families, 150,000 yuan for one, it is 60 trillion yuan, ” This is an unprecedented market that transcends all industries.”
He believes that it is the most difficult to innovate from 0 to 1, because the market does not know whether it will be successful or not, but as long as someone makes it, it will promote the development of the industry. Most Internet giant companies will invest in the humanoid robot industry. In the future, every family will buy at least one humanoid robot. robot.
Soochow Securities stated in the research report that the potential market space for humanoid robots in short-term housework scenarios is 14 trillion yuan, and the potential market space for medium-term commercial service scenarios and “unstructured” scenarios for industrial applications is 25 trillion yuan. Emotional and companion scenes, the potential market space reaches 31 trillion yuan.
In fact, the greater significance of humanoid robots lies in the impact and changes it may cause to the current human family and society.
Shenyang told the Shell Finance reporter that if humanoid robots are widely used in families and can replace people in housework, it will greatly change the appearance of human families and society, such as replacing women who do housework to improve the status of women, “Humanoid robots can understand Adults are hatching a new species similar to themselves. This is a sign of human maturity. I think human beings will enter the robot slave society as Asimov said, and human beings will gain greater liberation and greater freedom. , which is an important technical support for mankind to move towards a higher social stage.”
Regarding the future imagination space of “Optimus Prime”, Musk believes that after solving the problems related to the intelligence and actuators at the core of the robot, after continuous evolution, humanoid robots can not only complete tasks very “effectively”, but also become our partners. People can take it out to eat, drink and have fun, dress it up in various clothes, and choose a variety of ways to get along with it to form a unique personality. “I believe that with everyone’s creativity, a colorful ‘Optimus Prime’ will be created.” He even posted on social platforms, “Naturally, we will design a humanoid robot in the form of a catwoman.”
Ren Xunyu said that he hoped that everyone could look at the development of a new segmented industry with an inclusive mentality, for “Optimus Prime” as well as for Tieda, “There is no new engineering technology that can be achieved overnight in 1 to 2 years. Yes (don’t overestimate technology), but if you stretch the front to 10-15 years, that could be a sea change (don’t underestimate technology).”
Beijing News Shell Finance reporter Luo Yidan editor Xu Chao proofreads Lu Xi