Tesla’s second AI day is fast approaching, and with it a flurry of speculation about what will be discussed at the event – a phenomenon that we at TechCrunch are certainly not above.
AI Day is the annual event of the luxury electric vehicle manufacturer to hype its artificial intelligence capabilities in various business segments, with the ultimate goal of recruiting the brightest minds and engineers.
Even without Tesla’s star AI chief Andrej Karpathy, who left the company in July, he expects this event to be full of tech jargon and big promises from Tesla’s executives, including the big dog himself, CEO Elon Musk.
We’ll talk about what we expect to hear based on recent news, as well as last year’s AI Day event. But first how to look.
Tesla’s AI Day is scheduled for Sept. 30 and is expected to begin around 5 p.m. PT, though Tesla’s events are often notorious for running late. Remote viewers can livestream it on Tesla’s YouTube Channel or on its website.
Now, on to the forecasts.
An Optimus prototype
On last year’s AI day, Tesla announced plans to produce a humanoid robot called Optimus “meant to be kind and navigate a world built for people,” Musk said.
Tesla AI Day was originally scheduled for August 19, but Musk pushed the date back hoping to have a working Optimus prototype this week. On 20 Sept. Musk repeated his goal to have the prototype ready by the end of the month.
During Tesla’s earnings call for the first quarter of this year, the famed executive told investors that the company will continue to work on the 5’8″ robot, which will rely on Tesla’s work in neural networks and its advanced Dojo supercomputer (more on that later). To tackle the grind of human existence, AKA mundane tasks like grocery shopping.At the time, Musk said Optimus would be “worth more than the auto trade, worth more than FSD.”
FSD, or Full Self-Driving, is Tesla’s Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) that is certainly not fully autonomous, but can perform some autonomous driving tasks for drivers willing to pay $15,000. Musk has also said that without FSD, Tesla is worth “basically zero.”
Speaking at the opening of Tesla’s Austin gigafactory in April, Musk said Optimus, along with a new wave of products, will be launched in 2023. Which brings us to the alleged prototype…
If it manages to make it to the podium, we expect Optimus to weigh about 125 pounds, run about 8 miles per hour, have a screen in front of a face, and be weak enough that a human could overpower it if the bot decided to put on have a mind of your own one day.
Unless Tesla’s AI team has made extremely rapid progress to get this robot to perform human-like tasks, it seems unlikely that a consumer product will appear next year. And even if one does, will it be good?
Musk has promised to solve fully self-driving driving for years – in 2016, he said Tesla was less than two years away from solving “full autonomy”.” FSD still doesn’t have full self-driving capabilities, and those shortcomings are causing problems for Tesla. The automaker faces state and federal scrutiny for Autopilot, the lesser ADAS version, and FSD even as it expands access to the latter, as well as multiple lawsuits alleging Tesla falsely advertised the capabilities of its ADAS.
Updates to Autopilot and FSD
Musk also recently tweeted that Tesla’s AI team has a month-end deadline for “actually smart” subpoena and automatic parking, both features of Tesla’s Enhanced Autopilot, the $6,000 ADAS. Smart summon, which Musk’s tweet suggests has delivered a less than perfect performance, promises to navigate the car in complex environments and parking lots, “maneuvering around objects as needed to find you in a parking space.” Autopark helps “automatically park your car parallel or perpendicular, with a single touch”, according to Tesla’s website.
A Tesla robot taxi
Speaking at Tesla’s Cyber Rodeo to celebrate the opening of the Austin giga factory in April, Musk said 2022 would be the year of scaling, while 2023 would bring a “huge wave of new products.”
At the time, he called a “dedicated robot axi” that would look “pretty futuristic.” A few weeks later, during Tesla’s Q1 earnings call, Musk spoke more about the robotic axi, saying it would be purpose-built for autonomy — meaning it will be built without a steering wheel or pedals. It also offers riders the lowest cost per mile of any other transportation and is cheaper than a subsidized bus ticket, the CEO promised.
Tesla has been talking about a robotic axi concept since 2016, when Musk came out with his Masterplan Part Deux. The CEO envisioned a Tesla Network taxi service that would allow Tesla owners to throw their cars into the autonomous ring to generate revenue on their behalf while at work or on vacation.
Will Musk finally give details on what these robotaxis will look like, how they will be commercialized, or if Tesla has set a production date? Find out Friday.
Dojo Supercomputer Updates
This is where things really get jargon.
Last year, Tesla unveiled its in-house built chip, the D1, which the company uses to run its supercomputer, Dojo. Tesla’s AI architecture relies on Dojo, the neural network training supercomputer that Musk says can process massive amounts of camera image data four times faster than other computer systems. Having a super-fast computer is important to Tesla because it relies solely on cameras rather than lidar and radar for autonomous operations. This speed is dependent on the processing power of D1.
In late August, Tesla participated in Hot Chips 34, a semiconductor conference, in which the company revealed new information about Dojo’s AI system architecture and supercomputer. serve the house, an industry blog, published Tesla’s slides, detailing how Dojo’s distributed system facilitates machine learning and how it will lead Tesla to overall autonomy. The presentations were very technical, so we’ll skip the details about hardware and capabilities, but we expect a lot of the same information to be shared on AI Day, as well as how it all contributes to performance.
Again, Musk has repeatedly hinted at a spate of new products hitting the market next year, so we wouldn’t be surprised if he came out with something really wacky and eyebrow-raising.
We’ll be keeping an eye on the event so you don’t have to, so reach out to TechCrunch for updates on what news is actually being shared during Tesla’s AI Day.