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Musk markets Robot vapourware with a sideshow trick

by on18 January 2024

Don’t look behind the screen Dorothy

The latest Elon [look at me] Musk video accidentally reveals that Tesla's humanoid robot Optimus is about as "autonomous" as an animatronic puppet.

Musk has been touting the Optimus as the first affordable robot and promised us that they would be available last year.

While he is still running late on the project, Musk posted a new video of his humanoid robot Optimus folding a shirt. But the video is a sham, as Musk admitted in a tweet that the robot is not working by itself but being controlled by a human.

The video, which you can watch on X, shows Optimus taking a t-shirt out of a basket and folding it with its hands. Musk said on X that, "Optimus can't do this by itself yet, but it will be able to do this anywhere (it won't need a table with a box that has only one shirt)."

Sharp-eyed viewers may have spotted something fishy in the bottom-right corner of the screen. An engineer is hiding off-screen and telling the robot what to do.

You can see a hand popping into the frame, showing that there is a person on the right making the moves that the robot copies. And this trick is not new. In fact, it's been around since the 1960s.  Still he is closer to that goal than getting to Mars.

In fact, Disney did the same trick for the New York World's Fair in 1964, where he wowed people with a robot, Abe Lincoln, who could stand up, move his arms and legs and give a speech. And all of that was done by a person whose moves were copied by the robot.

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