Boston Dynamics CEO Robert Playter has commented on Tesla Bot, Tesla’s humanoid robot project, and he says it ignited a competitive spirit at the company.
Ever since Tesla announced its humanoid robot project, it has often been compared to Boston Dynamics, which is widely recognized as the leader in robotics.
The company was founded three decades ago as a spin-off from the MIT.
To the public, they are mostly known for their flashy and impressive videos of robots dancing and doing parkour, but they also work closely with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
It became more popular when it was acquired by Google, but it has since changed hands a few times and now it is owned by Hyundai.
With videos like this one below, Boston Dynamics has been able to grab most of the attention around robotics, but Tesla has been able to steal some of the attention away lately.
While Boston Dynamics is taking the approach of mainly developing new robotic technology and gradually finding applications for them, Tesla has been able to grab attention by instead selling the ambitious goal of general-purpose AI-based humanoid robot that will be to do a lot of different tasks.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk went as far as claiming that “everyone will want one,” and it could be as cheap as $30,000. This is significantly different from Boston Dynamics’ strategy, which involves selling way more expensive robots for more specific – mostly commercial and industrial – purposes.
But they are still expected to compete with Tesla Bot, which is expected to be used in manufacturing facilities at first.
Now Boston Dynamics CEO Robert Playter has commented on the new competition on the Lex Fridman podcast:
The CEO commented on Tesla getting into the robotics space:
It brought a bright light to the work we have been doing for over a decade and I think that’s only going to help. In fact, what we have seen, in addition to Tesla, we have seen a proliferation of robotic companies arise. […] It has brought excitement. Competitive juices are flowing. It’s all good.
Fridman asked Playter about his company going in a similar direction as Tesla with a more general-purpose and cheaper robot.
The CEO said that it is kind of why they released the following video:
We wanted to show the world that we can do this parkour thing, but we can also pick up and move heavy things. If you are going to work in a manufacturing environment, that’s what you gotta be able to do. For the reasons I explained earlier, it’s not trivial to do so.
The CEO added that they plan to add more dextrous hands to Atlas, their humanoid robots. The hands were probably the most impressive part of Tesla’s latest robot demonstration last week.
Elon has seen the same thing. He is talking about using the robots in a manufacturing environment. We think there’s something very interesting there – about having a two-arm robot.
When asked about cost and how Tesla is focused on bringing the cost down, the CEO admitted that Tesla is in a great position by leveraging what it learned from benefits electric vehicles at scale, but he noted that Boston Dynamics also has the benefits of being backed by an automaker: Hyundai.