Musk faces skeptics prior to 'Optimus' robot debut

STORY: Four years ago, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk blamed overreliance on factory robots for putting the electric carmaker in "production hell”, saying humans were better at certain jobs.

But apparently times have changed.

Tesla is now floating ambitious plans to deploy thousands of humanoid robots, known as Tesla Bots or Optimus, within its factories, expanding eventually to millions around the world, according to job postings.

On Sept. 30, at its “AI Day”, Tesla will unveil a prototype of Optimus - production of which could start next year.

Initially, Optimus will perform boring or dangerous jobs, including moving parts around its factories, according to Musk.

But he added that Tesla plans to leverage its AI expertise to develop and produce smart, yet less expensive, humanoid robots at scale, including ones for homes that can make dinner, mow the lawn, and um… yes, even become romantic partners.

Musk has also gone so far as to say that the robot business eventually may be worth more than Tesla’s car revenue.

But robotics experts interviewed by Reuters are skeptical about Musk’s plans for widespread use of humanoid robots.

They have been in development for decades by Honda and Hyundai's Boston Dynamics unit - and like self-driving cars, have trouble with unpredictable situations.

One expert told Reuters that to succeed, Tesla will need to show robots doing multiple, unscripted actions.

Tesla did not respond to Reuters' request for comments.

For now, analysts see more pageant than product, with one telling Reuters (quote), "It's all part of distracting people and giving them the next shiny object to chase after.”