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Elon Musk Gives Himself a Second Chance to Sell an Unusual Machine

The billionaire wants to show off Tesla's progress on artificial intelligence (AI).
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Billionaire Elon Musk is giving himself a second chance. 

The richest man in the world has been trying for several months now to draw attention to a product he considers revolutionary. So far, he has failed to do so despite having millions of fans and investors more often than not ready to buy his promises.

Yet the serial entrepreneur spared no effort to sell Optimus, the humanoid robot that Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc. Report is developing, to the world, to convince them that it will completely change our lives.

"I was surprised that people did not realize the magnitude of the Optimus robot program," the tech tycoon said last month during the first-quarter earnings' call, visibly annoyed. 

"The importance of Optimus will become apparent in the coming years. Those who are insightful or listen carefully will understand that Optimus ultimately will be worth more than the car business, worth more than FSD," Musk added, referring to Tesla's Full Self-Driving assistance system, which costs $12,000.

Introducing Optimus

Optimus is a project fueled by Musk's desire to replace humans with robots in his factories. It was introduced in August 2021, during a special event called Tesla AI [Artificial Intelligence] Day. Optimus is a human in a robot suit, nearly six feet tall and weighing 125 pounds — or rather, the person in the robot suit did. 

The Tesla Bot would use the same AI systems that helped power Tesla vehicles, Musk said at the time.

After a year, Musk has decided to organize a second event dedicated to AI on August 19th, the second he's hosted.

The event is obviously an opportunity for the mogul to show the prowess and advances made by Tesla to refine its autonomous driving technology. Musk, who tends to overpromise, has promised that Tesla cars will be autonomous by the end of the year. Currently FSD Beta, the most advanced version of Tesla's driver assistance system, allows vehicles to perform multiple maneuvers but not drive themselves without a human behind the wheel.

"Tesla AI Day #2 on Aug 19. So many cool updates!" Musk announced, on Twitter, on May 17. 

In an exchange with a Twitter user, the CEO of Tesla admitted that it is also a seduction operation to recruit while the war for talents is in full swing between the tech groups.

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"Yes, the purpose of AI Day is to convince great AI/software/chip talent to join Tesla," the businessman added.

But the question on everyone's lips is what Musk has in store to finally convince skeptics of the importance of Optimus.

"Wow, can't wait! Will you show a sneak preview of Tesla Bot? 🙏🏻" asked YouTuber and Tesla investor David Lee.

"Yes," Musk responded.

Coming in 2023

The response has sparked a lot of excitement among Musk fans on social media, but other Tesla supporters have pointed out that this isn't the first time the billionaire has made big promises only to end up not delivering them.

"The market is not reacting to it because it will be an unprepared Elon talking over his employees again," commented a Twitter user who identifies himself as a Tesla investor. "Overpromising updates and delivering fluffy statements. I’m a $TSLA bull but their execution in certain things is piss poor."

"The market that reacted to it was the labor market, not the stock market. it is meant to the first, not the second," another user posted.

Optimus will assist in tasks around the factory or perform other types of repetitive work, the company has said. Tesla wants to produce 20 millions vehicles annually compared to almost one million in 2021.

The humanoid robot could herald an era when "physical work will be a choice", Musk has said. Ultimately, it could mean "there will need to be universal basic income."

But in 2018, the billionaire said sometimes too much automation is a "mistake."

"Yes, excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake. To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated," the billionaire said at the time.

A prototype Optimus will be ready by the end of the year and Tesla plans to market it from 2023, Musk has promised.

"I think actually the most important product development we're doing this year is actually the Optimus humanoid robot. This, I think, has the potential to be more significant than the vehicle business over time," the tech tycoon said in January.