It’s frightening to think that it will not be a surprise to all of us if one of these days, we’ll wake up to the fact that our new robot overlords have taken over the planet. We’re seeing advances in robotics that will not make that an impossibility. We’re still far away from robots becoming sentient beings that will enslave us though so for now we can enjoy how these humanoid devices are still being created to help us rather than replace us.
It’s also not a surprise that Elon Musk and Tesla are at the forefront of trying to make these robots better. The latest version of their humanoid robot, the Optimus Gen 2, brings many improvements from their first one, the Bumblebee back in 2022, and the Optimus Gen 1 from just earlier this year. It received a lot of hardware upgrades for this version, specifically the Tesla-designed actuators and sensors that are now more precise and accurate and now has integrated electronics into it. You get articulated toe sections based on human foot geometry so it can walk a bit more naturally.
It now also has a 2-DoF actuated neck so it’s able to move its head in a more human way, which can be amazing or terrifying. Its hands now has 11-DoF and tactile sensing in all of its digits so it will be able to handle eggs and other delicate things without dropping them. It is also now lighter by 10kg and gets a 30% walk speed boost so it can easily move around better than its predecessors, although you can still outrun it if needed. Because of these improvements, it has improved balance and full body control that it can do things like squats.
The Optimus humanoid robot is envisioned to be a helper for humans, taking over some of the monotonous tasks that we would like to escape from. The Gen 2 is still in the prototype phase though and there is no news yet if they will eventually manufacture and sell it. It gives us time to think about whether we will risk an eventual robot uprising just to take away tedious tasks from our every day life.