Elon Musk says he will have ato show next year, but the iconoclastic entrepreneur has a mixed record when it comes to promises and predictions. It’s worth revisiting them before planning your next moving day around the debut of the Tesla Bot.
Last week on Tesla’s AI Day, Musk announced that the automaker will have a prototype ready as early as next year to help with boring, repetitive, or dangerous tasks. As a proof of concept, Musk shared a PowerPoint and welcomed a dancer in a Tesla Bot bodysuit on stage. It all reminded a little of thewhich resulted in two broken windows on stage.
The promise of a home robot is also a little hard to swallow when Tesla launches a ‘fully autonomous driving’ option in its cars which,, does not deliver on its name. Same that the current beta is actually “not great”.
It’s almost too easy to be skeptical of Musk’s promises. He has burned us so many times in the past. But it’s also a bit of a half-empty prospect, right? He’s the same man who has arguably revolutionized at least two industries – automotive and space launch – over the past decade, while also advancing in others, such as high-speed Internet access with the Starlink service. from SpaceX.
The problem is, Musk promises not only revolutions, but much more transcendent achievements, like moving millions of people to Mars or merging humans with AI. So how do you rate what to believe in a man who, due to superhuman goals, delivers both revolution and disappointment?
Let’s go back to Musk’s background for an overview.
Sleep during the journey
In 2014,that autonomous driving systems would be sufficiently advanced by 2020 that “you can literally get in the car, fall asleep and wake up at your destination”.
Seven years later, Tesla has clearly made progress towards that goal, but what she calls fully autonomous driving is still really advanced driver assistance, and falling asleep on the way to work is still a very bad idea (and illegal. ). The debate over the exact amount of range Tesla currently offers was exposed earlier this year when Musk promised full Level 5 range by the end of 2021, but a company engineer reneged on his promise. in communications with regulators less than three months later. Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.
By the way, this is all happening after the end of 2020, which was Musk’s 2019 deadline for Tesla to have a million robotaxis on the road. At the time, Musk noted that he was often not on time with such commitments, but promised Tesla would. Now we have to ask ourselves about the chances of seeing Tesla Bots in homes before fleets of robotaxis hit the road.
Still, there’s reason to believe Tesla and Musk will eventually. The company took a bold step, first hinted at by Musk in 2015, that the automaker could be worth as much as Apple (over $ 700 billion at the time) by 2025.
Earlier this year, Tesla’s market value surpassed $ 800 billion for the first time. Meanwhile, Apple is worth over $ 2 trillion, but it’s still a remarkable gain from Tesla’s valuation of around $ 25 billion in 2015.
Moving to Mars
Musk’s other big hit has been with, the rocket company he founded in 2002 to work on his magnum opus: making humanity a multiplanetary species by sending us as many as possible . At the time, when people weren’t paying so much attention to Musk’s predictions, he was hoping to reach the Red Planet by 2010.
Instead, it took six years for SpaceX to enter orbit for the first time, in 2008. Since then, the company has pioneered and perfected the practice of rocket landing and reuse, launched. the most powerful rocket in the world today in the, and transported astronauts to the International Space Station in the first new crew vehicle developed in decades.
While this was all going on, SpaceX also launched a massive satellite broadband service, called. The company has dominated the space industry so much that when NASA awarded contracts for the human landing system that will return astronauts to the lunar surface this decade, .
It’s a remarkable track record, and yet it falls short of Musk’s hype.
His timetable for going to Mars has been pushed back several times, to 2018, then 2022, 2024 … NASA did not back down this target under the Biden administration, although the majority of observers often find that it is. This is a laughable goal given the frigid pace of development of the agency’s next-generation space launch system.
But with Musk and SpaceX officially in the mix and development of Starship for missions to the moon, the rhetoric has shifted a bit, led by the man himself. As early as 2019, Musk predicted that Starship could send astronauts to the moon by 2023, a goal he recently reiterated.
Meanwhile, SpaceX has already missed an “ambitious” target to send Starship on its first orbital flight in July. Although Musk says the massive vehicle is nearly ready to fly, he still faces months of regulatory hurdles that make a first trip to space this year less likely.
So just like with Tesla, don’t bet against SpaceX to get to where it plans to go, but certainly don’t assume it will happen as soon as Musk wants it to.
Caught in the hyperloop
With Musk’s top two businesses outlined above, he just seems to be impatient or may even use those impossible deadlines to motivate employees while keeping the audience interested. Either way, the results follow the hype (even from a distance) fairly consistently.
But with Musk’s side projects, the results have been more mixed.
To take, the super-fast monorail-type transport in a vacuum tube that Musk opened in a white paper in 2013. He admitted at the time that he didn’t have the bandwidth to devote to developing the technology, but he continued to work on the project alongside, hosting pod development competitions, starting the Boring Company to improve tunnel construction, and undertaking a few demonstration projects, notably in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, under the renamed Loop.
as a means of avoiding traffic via a network of underground high-speed pods and skates that can move passengers and vehicles up to twice the speed limit of the highway on the surface.
So far, however, the pilots in Las Vegas and near SpaceX’s headquarters in California have been nothing more than tiny tunnels where human drivers behind Teslas wheels carry passengers short distances at relatively high speeds. weak. We are still waiting for the revolution on this one.
Musk in your head
Musk is also late in delivering what was promised with another of his smaller efforts,. The long-term vision here is a truly futuristic mental fusion between individual human brains and artificial intelligence via brain-computer interfaces. Musk sees this as a way for humanity to follow the development of a powerful general AI, which he .
In the short term, the plan is to develop assistive technology for people with conditions like paralysis.
In 2019, Musk said, “We hope to have this, with aspiration, in a human patient by the end of this year. So it’s not far. “
But so far, Neuralink’s news has been a bit patchy. A few media events featured pigs with brain implants and aof Pong via wireless brain implants. Human trials, scientific publications and other data have been slow to emerge, however. An earlier goal of bringing Neuralink to market in 2021 certainly does not appear to be coming true.
So what to take away from all this? A couple of things are clear: Musk can’t help but project himself into the future on almost anything that lands on his radar, and his timelines can’t be trusted. If Elon Musk promises to deliver your pizza in 30 minutes, go out to dinner and look forward to that pizza next week.
Also, don’t forget that this guy spends a lot of nights sleeping at Tesla’s facility or in a tiny house on the Starship development campus. He has a good grasp of what’s possible in the automotive and space realms, but when he talks about almost any other topic, whether it’s Dogecoin or even humanoid robots , perhaps consider some skepticism.
Musk might like to think of Tesla as a robotics company, but companies like Boston Dynamics likely have something to say about engineering for the multiple degrees of freedom a humanoid shape suggests. No one has ever seen a Model III jump, dance or back flip, after all.
I asked Musk for comment via Tesla and SpaceX, but got no response.
So will we see Tesla Bot next year? May be. But something tells me that Musk might be distracted by other engagements.