Elon Musk installed a giant 30ft fork in the road created by Burning Man artist Hunter Leggitt outside the Autopilot office in Palo Alto, will this be a permanent art installation? Tesla’s Optimus robot is already working at the Fremont factory, and exactly how many robots are in Tesla’s fleet?
This article asks these questions and covers:
- The giant fork in the road
- What Optimus can do, jobs, other fun stuff
- Optimus will be safe
GIANT FORK IN THE ROAD
Hunter Leggitt studios created “MetaFork in the Road,” a whimsical 30-foot tall and 4,500 lbs steel installation representing the classic metaphor for a deciding moment in life when a choice between presented options is required. The artwork may be planned for permanent installation at Tesla Bay Area Autopilot / A.I. Division in Palo Alto. You can learn more about the art here.
Elon Musk tweeted,
You and I are living in an age of transition, at the time of the giant fork in the road. Most people today did not grow up with smartphones, but now we use smartphones every day. We did not grow up with robotaxis, and in the future, they will be commonplace. The same goes for Optimus, none of us consider daily life normal with the robot yet, but one day we may, if we choose that path.
What amazed me about AI Day 2022 was that Tesla’s Optimus prototype has a brain and is working in the Fremont factory. It is significant that Optimus was shown doing jobs. This included watering plants, delivering packages, and at a Fremont factory workstation moving parts.
In the live demo at Tesla Palo Alto, Optimus sees the audience and just knows that he is supposed to walk out to the middle of the stage and when he sees a crowd of people he knows that he should wave. When the music was playing, Optimus just knew it was okay to dance.
One day this good-humored Optimus will help us inside our houses cleaning, and in the meantime, priority will go to having the robots work in Tesla’s Fremont factory.
Elon Musk explained,
“Our goal with Optimus is to have a robot that is maximumly useful as quickly as possible. So there’s a lot of ways to solve the various problems of a humanoid robot.
We want to pick something that’s going to allow us to produce the robot as quickly as possible, to be useful as quickly as possible, we’re trying to follow the goal of fastest path to a useful robot that can be made at volume and we’re going to test the robot internally at Tesla in our factory and just see, like how useful is it?
Because you’re going to close the loop on reality to confirm that the robot is in fact useful.” – Elon Musk
If Tesla bots are indeed useful in the factory, then will they eventually work in other Tesla factories? Giga Texas, Giga Shanghai, and Giga Berlin could benefit from employing Tesla bots. Tesla also operates ~13 production facilities around the world including Gigafactory Nevada.
Optimus’ prototype was built in ~ 6 months. The aesthetic design of Optimus that Tesla will mass produce has design undertones from Tesla’s Cybertruck. One of the features I appreciate is that the pieces do not look intimidating, rather they look beautiful and artistic. The robot above that is shown with Elon Musk wears a Giga Texas Tesla belt buckle. This led me to write an article titled “Don’t Mess with Tesla Bot” for Scentwedge creator Arash Malek.
Elon Musk describes a futuristic scenario that includes different types of Optimus,
“I think we want to have really fun versions of Optimus, so that Optimus can both be utilitarian and do tasks but can also be kind of like a friend and a buddy and hang out with you.
I’m sure people will think of all sorts of creative uses for this robot. Once you have the core intelligence and actuators figured out, then you can put all sorts of costumes on the robot.
I mean you can make the robot many different ways and I’m sure people will find many interesting ways.” – Elon Musk
I’m excited to see Tesla develop Optimus to do many roles within the factory. I think Tesla could modify the robot to work in different situations in the factory. For example, the greenskeeper Optimus that goes around and waters the plants should look different from the foundrybot Optimus that works placing ingots into the melting furnace.
OPTIMUS WILL BE SAFE
A humorous quote was written into the design of the wristband at AI Day, which said,
The term owning and Optimus does not sound quite right to Elon Musk, and I agree. We wouldn’t want a society where Optimus is thought of as our property or slave, that is too reminiscent of the dystopian, science-fiction movies where slaves are oppressed and treated horribly. Rather there should be a concept of kindness towards Optimus because it is not something that humans program, it’s something that will have its own brain, and in a limited way.
For people who drive their Tesla on Autopilot, you just know that at any moment you can completely take over control of the car. You do this by pressing on the brakes, tugging on the steering wheel or tapping on the stalk in your car. You might not want a robot that just stops functioning only because someone taps on it. Optimus will have a deactivation receiving signal and Tesla is developing this for our safety, in the rare situation that Optimus is found doing something that would be harmful to himself or humans.
There are a few unanswered questions. How many Optimus is already produced and working? Or, how big is the current Optimus fleet? Where and when will manufacturing at scale start?
Elon Musk explained that Optimus could help humans move into an age of abundance. So although we are facing a crisis of underpopulation, the lucky people that will be alive into the future will be enjoying an incredible life. That means, if you have children, their children, and grandchildren, will be living in an age of abundance.
“The potential really boggles the mind, because you have to say what is an economy? An economy is sort of productive entities times their productivity. Capita times output, productivity per capita. But the point at which there’s not a limitation on capita, it’s not clear what an economy even means at that point! Economy becomes quasi-infinite. So, taken to fruition, in the hopefully benign scenario, this means a future of abundance. A future where there is no poverty. Where people, you can have whatever you want in terms of products and services. It really is a fundamental transformation of civilization as we know it.” - Elon Musk
- Optimus is already working in the Tesla Fremont factory, it is unknown how large the fleet of robots are there, and it is significant that the robot can do jobs such as water plants, deliver packages and function at a workstation
- Optimus’ prototype design wears a “Don’t Mess with Tesla” belt buckle and has design undertones from Tesla’s Cybertruck
- All Tesla’s products are built with safety in mind and Optimus is no different! The robot will have many safety measures and one humorous one is that, “If you can run faster than 5 mph, you’re fine!”
- A giant 30-foot fork in the road stands as a monumental symbol at Autopilot office in Palo Alto and is planned for permanent installation, according to Hunter Leggitt Studio website
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Credit Hunter Leggitt Studio for the header image of this article of Metafork in the Road.
Gail Alfar, author. Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – October 10, 2022 (Article updated on October 27, 2022 to say Metafork is possibly planned as a permanent art installation. It was noted that the MetaFork is not currently on display at Tesla Palo Alto as of 10/27/22). All Rights Reserved. My goal as an author is to support Tesla and Elon Musk in both making life better on earth for humans and becoming a space-fairing civilization.