Elon Musk and Tesla revealed the vision for a general-purpose humanoid robot.
They would start with the most boring, repetitive and dangerous work. The work humans least like to do.
What is dangerous work? Installing solar power onto buildings is dangerous. Roofing is considered the fourth most dangerous job in the United States. Some of the most common hazards for roofers include slip and falls, electrocutions, and burns.
Tesla needs robots to install solar power.
Other dangerous jobs:
Mining, garbage collection and iron working is dangerous. Tesla needs to mine more materials for their batteries and cars. Steel working is needed for Tesla cars.
Logging and firefighting are not something that Tesla is currently involved but it is a key part of climate change.
Delivery drivers is the seventh most dangerous job. This is clearly matches well with what Tesla is already doing. Couriers and delivery services are estimated to be a $126 billion a year business that is growing at 4% per year. Automated delivery and logistics improvement could expand this industry the way self-driving would expand taxi and trucking businesses.
Highway maintenance work is also dangerous. Boring tunnel maintenance and support would also be dangerous. Narrower utility tunnels would be useful but dangerous.
A few months ago, Hyundai bought Boston Dynamics with a valuation of $1.1 billion. Boston Dynamics was purchased by Google in 2013, then Japanese investment firm SoftBank in 2017, which bought it from Google for $100 million before injecting $37 million more in 2019. Now, Hyundai holds an 80 percent stake in the company and SoftBank retains the remaining 20 percent.
Boston Dynamics has about $50 million in revenue and about 300 employees.
Sarcos Robotics is another player with innovative robots. Sarcos thinks they can make dexterous mobile robots. They are projecting $2.7 billion in sales just five years from now. Sarcos is targeting exoskeletons and a remotely-operated humanoid-type robot that’s anchored to an aerial work platform and remotely controlled by a human.
If Tesla is successful in recruiting 200-300 of the best AI researchers and graduates then they will have the opportunity to match or exceed Boston Dynamics and Sarcos within a year in humanoid robotics. Tesla already has some of the best AI researchers and they have the batteries, vision and other systems functioning already. Tesla and Elon’s other companies can work on several useful niches to generate early revenue. It will be relatively trivial for Tesla to get initial revenues beyond the $50-100 million levels of Boston Dynamics or Sarcos. Elon is far more skilled at scaling revenue.
There were claims and still are claims that Waymo is ahead of Tesla in self-driving. However, Tesla is able to generate over $10,000 to $12000 for about 25% of their car sales with FSD sales and $4000 for autopilot sales. This is over $1 billion in AI software sales every year now that they are selling 800,000 to 900,000 cars in a year.
Tesla’s vision only AI/camera navigation will scale down to the humanoid robot. Tesla has experience with robotic arms used in factories. Tesla will access the utility small labor market with the cybertruck and a cybervan. Tesla can work with automated or semiautomated robotaxi. Incrementally adding a deployable small robot to the robotaxi or a Tesla human driven ridershare fleet would be trivial. Tesla can generate billions in revenue with a 50% complete humanoid robot or even wheeled human scale robots.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
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