New Tesla Optimus video shows more than a 1min of unassisted walking, on the same day Figure gets funding from Bezos, Nvidia and OpenAI

    Elon Musk has just shared a new video of Tesla’s humanoid robot, Optimus, walking the factory floor. In the video, we see a very large development studio and the latest version of Optimus walking unassisted for 1 minute and 18 seconds at a very impressive speed.

    Unfortunately, the video quality was 224p, not exactly the quality you’d expect to show the best of what’s on offer from Tesla Robotics. I’m sure a higher-quality video is on the way.

    Previous Optimus videos have been released every couple of months, showing progress from the team and each time we have seen significant progress. This time I think it’s the confidence, speed and duration that are important. There’s no uneven surface, there are no obstacles in the way but the path is certainly an interesting one. Optimus seems to be walking around without much of a plan for where he’s off too.

    One possible explanation is that like FSD Beta without a route, the robot could be navigating where it thinks it’s supposed to go, or until it finds an obstacle and turns either left or right. Another possibility is that the route is pre-programmed by engineers and the robot is simply executing. While this may not seem as impressive, following a digital route will be important to executing real workloads that often require the robot to travel from point A to pick up something and return it to point B.

    It’s probably no coincidence that the latest Optimus video dropped today, the same day that a major competitor, Figure, announced a significant new investment round.

    Figure’s new funding round is a major turning point in the development of humanoid robots. The round is worth a reported $675 million, demonstrating strong investor belief in Figure’s potential.

    Lead Investors on the round include tech titan and founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, as well as leading AI and GPU maker Nvidia. If fate loves irony, this is a dozen red rozes drizzled in chocolate, as OpenAI, a company Musk co-founded, also investing in Figure who will now compete with Tesla’s Optimus.

    • Valuation: This investment gives Figure a pre-money valuation of $2 billion. With the new funds, its post-money valuation could be notably higher.

    Why this investment matters

    These high-profile investors and the immense funding underscore several key points:

    • Validation of the Technology: Figure’s humanoid robotics advancements are seen as groundbreaking and likely to succeed.
    • Market Demand: The investors anticipate a significant market for humanoid robots in various sectors.
    • Accelerated Development: This funding will turbocharge Figure’s R&D, bringing production-ready robots to market faster.
    • Strategic Partnerships: Investors like Nvidia and Amazon could open doors to collaborative projects and vast industry applications.

    Potential motivations

    It’s fascinating to consider why these specific investors backed Figure:

    • Jeff Bezos: Bezos has a history of funding disruptive technologies. Humanoid robots align with Amazon’s potential use cases in warehouses and logistics.
    • Nvidia: Nvidia’s AI technologies are crucial for humanoid robotics. This investment could lead to deeper integration between their products and Figure’s robots.
    • OpenAI: OpenAI believes in the transformative power of AI. Figure’s humanoids could embody cutting-edge AI models for advanced problem-solving and interaction.

    The Future is Humanoid

    There’s no doubt the race is on. This funding round marks a watershed moment for Figure and the humanoid robotics field. We are on the cusp of a new era where robots seamlessly integrate into our lives, performing tasks, assisting the elderly, revolutionizing industries, and changing the human-machine relationship forever.

    Jason Cartwright
    Jason Cartwright
    Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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