How Tesla, Google and others are making robots more like us

Not so long ago, putting a robot in your home meant plugging in a Roomba and letting it roam your floors like a little dust guard.

But now, thanks to lightning-fast developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning, robots are becoming smarter and much more human. And if the world’s futurists are successful, your next robotic assistant could be a humanoid roaming your home on two legs.

By 2022, we have seen huge advances in the world of robotics. At Tesla AI Day 2022, the company unveiled the first two working prototypes of its so-called Tesla Bot: a walking humanoid called Optimus, built with off-the-shelf parts, and another, more advanced version of Optimus. want to put into production.

Optimus is built around Tesla’s autonomous AI, but instead of being designed to navigate roads and understand traffic lights, the AI ​​has been modified to negotiate the rest of the world and detect everyday objects and people. On AI Day, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the robot was designed to be the kind of home helper you might one day buy as a gift for your parents.

“Optimus is designed to be an extremely capable robot manufactured in very high volume — probably, ultimately, millions of units,” Musk said. “And it should cost a lot less than a car.”

Google is working on bots that can understand vague phrases like “I spilled my drink” and then figure out what steps are needed to fix the problem.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

It is not only Tesla that puts its AI in physical form. Google is also reshaping the world of robotics by equipping its advanced machine learning brain with a robotic body. In 2022, Google put its artificial intelligence technology, called Palm Say-Can, into robots built by Everyday Robots (a company spun off from Google’s X initiative). Instead of being programmed with commands like “If this, then that,” the robot brain uses machine learning to understand vague instructions like “I’m hungry,” then it works out the steps to solve the problem.

Google and Tesla might not be the companies that come to mind when you think of assistive robots. But these tech giants are the face of a new frontier in robot design: ultra-intelligent droids designed to seamlessly navigate our world and interact with the humans in it.

In this week’s episode of What the Future, we take a closer look at the evolution of robotics and the companies that are trying to push robots further into our lives, blurring the lines between man and machine. From Optimus to “self-repairing” slime bots and all the weird and wonderful bots in between, check out the video above to see which bots to watch out for in the coming year.

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