With Tesla’s much-hyped AI Day event concluded now, critics are coming out in droves to pan the company for what they consider was an underwhelming conclusion to days of media-led frenzy. However, such an attitude ignores the extraordinary pace of advancement that Tesla just demonstrated in realizing its vision for the Optimus robot.
Before going further, readers should note that the Tesla AI Day event was primarily geared toward attracting new engineering talent and was not a demonstration of a finished product. Despite the rather staid undertones of the event, here is what the company has just announced.
Tesla AI Day 2022: Autopilot, Dojo Supercomputer, and the Optimus
Tesla introduced the vision-based iteration of its Autopilot – a Level 2 Advanced Driver-Assistance System (ADAS) – with much fanfare a while back. The rationale here is that with eight high-resolution cameras and a high-tech neural network to interpret the visual cues, the Autopilot would mimic the way humans make decisions on the road – that is, with the brain interpreting visual signals. However, as the regulatory scrutiny around the Autopilot system seems to have grown lately, there are indications that Tesla might incorporate a radar into its vision-based ADAS as another layer of contingency in adverse weather conditions, where cameras often fail to function properly.
During the Tesla AI Day 2022 event, the company detailed its new auto-labeling tech for visual data points. Previously, in order to train its bespoke neural network, Tesla had to manually label objects in a given visual stream to aid AI-based identification. Now, however, the company’s auto-labeling technology allows its neural network to consume around half a million visual clips each day, thereby significantly ramping up the pace at which the AI system’s capabilities improve.
In addition, Tesla detailed the improvements that have been made to its spatial recurring network video module to train the AI to keep track of spatial as well as chronal queues.
Tesla also revealed that the Full Self-Driving (Beta) capability of its Autopilot system now has 160,000 customers as opposed to just 2,000 back in 2021.
Next, readers would remember that last time around, Tesla had unveiled the 7nm-based D1 chip to power its in-house Dojo supercomputer. This time, the company went into a lot of details on this front.
1 Exapod = 1.1 exaFLOPs of machine learning compute pic.twitter.com/jfSX2BFmye
— Tesla (@Tesla) October 1, 2022
Tesla plans to build its first Dojo exapod in 2023. In total, the company plans to build 7 such exapods to speed up its neural network training.
Finally, we come to the Optimus robot. Last time around, Tesla had just showcased a spandex-clad mannequin on stage. This time, we got our first look at the self-mobile, bipedal robot.
— Tesla (@Tesla) October 1, 2022
The Optimus robot is intended to closely resemble human physiology, eventually allowing the automaton to perform menial, repetitive tasks at scale and with unmatched efficiency. In order to lower the cost, Tesla is utilizing synergies from its EV business by incorporating the battery pack, cooling system, etc. Tesla aims to start retailing these robots at around $20,000 in 3 to 5 years.
Naturally, there will be a catgirl version of our Optimus robot
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 1, 2022
Of course, it would not be a Tesla event if we did not get at least one colorful comment from Elon Musk. True to his form, the CEO of Tesla said that there would be a “catgirl” version of the Optimus. Please, don’t hold your breath on that count.
This brings us to the crux. I’m seeing the word “unimpressed” in my Twitter feed being bandied about quite frequently in relation to Tesla’s AI Day event. I vehemently disagree. Even if the improvements surrounding the Autopilot and Dojo do not interest such critics, the fact that Tesla managed to partially realize its vision of a humanoid robot in less than a year definitely should.
Yes, Boston Dynamics already has such a robot, but it retails for nearly $1 million. Yes, Honda has its Asimo robot, but we haven’t heard any material development on that front in years. Tesla sits at a unique technological junction to spur material advancement around humanoid robotics at a relatively clip pace. So, no, the Tesla AI Day 2022 event was most certainly not a dud.