From Bumblebee to Optimus Gen-2: An Era of AI Evolution

From Bumblebee to Optimus Gen-2: An Era of AI Evolution

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Jaya
Jaya Sharma
Assistant Manager - Content
Updated on Dec 18, 2023 07:52 IST

Optimus is Tesla's vision for robotics which is expected to have a billion-dollar market share in the coming years. Currently, the second generation model has been unveiled. It is known as Optimus Gen-2 which has significantly improved capabilities and more features as compared to the previous versions.

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Optimus Gen-2 is the second generation of the humanoid 'Optimus' developed by Tesla. It was initially known as 'Tesla Bot' or 'Optimus'. This humanoid can mimic human mobility and actions to prevent any repetitive labour.

Timeline of Optimus Reveal

1. In August 2021, Tesla gave the world a glimpse of its idea to create a fully functional robot at its inaugural AI Day event. It was a sneak peek at Musk's vision to create a humanoid robot. Tesla did an unusual thing at the unveiling event. Instead of showcasing the prototype, a human came up on the stage, wearing a robot suit and started mimicking the potential movements of the Tesla's bot. The focus was on the technology by highlighting the suit's actuators, neural networks and sensors. The aim was to bring the focus on the Dojo supercomputer that will train AI algorithms to power Optimus' decision-making and movements. This garnered curiosity among people for the potential of the humanoid robot in the future.

2. On the 2022 Tesla AI Day, the functional prototype of the humanoid was unveiled to the world. The prototype had 28 articulated joints and 11 hand motions. This Dojo-powered prototype could walk, interact with the environment and perform simple tasks. It was even capable of climbing stairs and navigating a tricky path that was littered with obstacles. The prototype was capable of picking up and manipulating objects. This humanoid robot used cameras for identifying and tracking objects in its surroundings.  

3. In September 2022, Tesla introduced ‘Bumblebee’ which is the first prototype of Optimus humanoid. It was capable of performing basic movements. In March 2023, Tesla introduced the world with ‘Optimus Gen-2’ as a step forward from Bumblebee. By September 2023, the humanoid robot showed significant improvements. Tesla had integrated more advanced software and sensors to refine the capabilities of its robot.

4. In December 2023, Tesla released a video of the improved Optimus Gen-2. The design improved, the speed improved and the ability to handle objects also improved. Elon Musk intends to commercialize Optimus, aiming to manufacture a million units at a cost of under USD 20,000 per unit.

Objective Behind Building Optimus Gen-2

Tesla's Optimus Gen 2 is Elon Musk's vision to advance the capabilities of robotics and integrate them into everyday life and work. It aims to address several key objectives:

  1. Labor Shortage Solution: One of the primary aims is to provide a solution to labor shortages in various sectors. Optimus is designed to perform tasks that are repetitive, boring, dangerous, or otherwise unsuitable for humans.
  2. Integration of Advanced AI: Leveraging Tesla's extensive experience in artificial intelligence and machine learning, Optimus is expected to showcase the company's advancements in AI, potentially leading to more sophisticated and adaptable robotic behavior.
  3. Affordable Robotics for Everyday Tasks: Musk has indicated a desire to create an affordable, humanoid robot that can be widely used in everyday scenarios, both in industrial and domestic environments.
  4. Safety and Efficiency in Workplaces: By taking over risky and physically demanding tasks, Optimus could significantly improve safety and efficiency in various workplaces.
  5. Technological Advancement and Innovation: Tesla's foray into humanoid robotics with Optimus represents an ambitious step in technological innovation, pushing the boundaries of what's possible in robotics and AI.
  6. Economic Impact: The introduction of such advanced robots could have a significant impact on the economy, potentially transforming labor markets and productivity.

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From Bumblebee to Optimus Gen-2: What Has Changed?

Tesla’s vision is to create a humanoid robot that can reduce human labour. While Bumblebee was just the beginning, Optimus Gen-2 has taken the shape of what Tesla wants to achieve in the future. Let us take a look at the features of Bumblebee:

 

Bumblebee (Prototype from September 2022)

  • Development Stage: Bumblebee was an earlier developmental prototype.
  • Components: It was built with off-the-shelf parts.
  • Capabilities: Specific details about Bumblebee's features and capabilities are not extensively documented, but it served as a stepping stone in the development of Tesla's humanoid robotics technology.

Optimus Gen 1 (Introduced in March 2023)

  • Custom Parts: Unlike Bumblebee, Optimus Gen 1 was built with custom parts.
  • Capabilities: Although details are not as thorough, it showed some advancements from Bumblebee, with improved but still limited mobility.

Optimus Gen 2 (Introduced in December 2023)

  • Weight and Speed: The Optimus Gen 2 is lighter by 10 kg (22 lb) and 30% faster than its predecessor, enhancing its agility and efficiency.
  • Improved Movement and Human-like Features: It exhibits more human-like movements, including smoother, more capable motions, and a more human appearance in its walking style. This improvement is aimed at making the robot's interactions more natural and relatable​.
  • Advanced Hands and Feet: The new version features hands with 11 degrees of freedom and feet with articulated toe sections and force/torque sensors. These enhancements allow for more deft manipulation of objects and improved balance​.
  • Integrated Electronics and Sensors: Optimus Gen 2 includes integrated electronics and sensors that aid in replicating human movement more accurately​​.
  • Energy Efficiency: The robot runs on a processor designed to improve battery efficiency, enabling it to work for an entire day on a single charge of its 2.7kWh battery pack.
  • Neural Network-Based Operation: It operates using the same neural networks that power Tesla's cars, suggesting a high level of integration and sophistication in its control systems.

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Comparison: Optimus Gen-2 vs Digit vs Atlas

The following table provides a comparison of three contemporary humanoid robots developed by different companies:

Feature

Tesla’s Optimus Gen-2

Digit

Atlas

Manufacturer

Tesla

Agility Robotics

Boston Dynamics

Height

1.78 m

1.75 m

1.5 m

Actuators

28

20

28

Weight

10 kg lighter than the prototype

65 kg

80 kg

Speed

30% faster than the prototype

1.5 m/s

2.5 m/s

Degrees of Freedom

11

16

28

Fine Motor Skills

Can manipulate delicate objects like eggs

Can grab and move plastic crates

Can manipulate objects

Vision Systems

Depth perception, object processing

Stereo vision, range sensing

Laser rangefinder, stereo cameras

Unique Features

Can squat, dance, boil eggs

Can do heavy work, has LED animated eyes for better human-robot interaction

Can navigate rough terrain, climb independently, withstand being hit by projectiles

Power Source

Electrically powered

Battery

Electrically powered

Actuation

Hydraulically actuated

Brushless DC motors

Hydraulically actuated

About the Author
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Jaya Sharma
Assistant Manager - Content

Jaya is a writer with an experience of over 5 years in content creation and marketing. Her writing style is versatile since she likes to write as per the requirement of the domain. She has worked on Technology, Fina... Read Full Bio