By Fred Lambert

Elon Musk gave a timeline to production for the first time for the Tesla Optimus project, a humanoid robot capable of doing general tasks.

The CEO believes the company can bring the ambitious project to production as soon as next year. It’s an ultra-ambitious timeline even for him.

When Tesla announced the “Tesla Bot” project at its A Day last year, Elon Musk presented it as something the company could do by leveraging existing work and parts from the development of self-driving technology, and if they don’t do it, someone else will.

At the time, it certainly didn’t sound like a priority for Tesla and many saw it mainly as a recruitment tool as the automaker is trying to boost its AI team to deliver its full self-driving system.

A few months later, the project’s priority level went up fast.

Musk announced that Tesla is now prioritizing product development of Tesla Bot, which he now calls Optimus, in 2022over some of its upcoming vehicles.

The CEO appeared a lot more excited about the project and its potential to impact labor shortage and eventually the broader economy.

When first announcing the project, Tesla was aiming to have a prototype of the humanoid robot ready by the end of 2022, but there was no talk of a production timeline just yet.

Elon Musk Tesla Bot

At the Tesla Cyber Rodeo event today, Musk offered a production timeline for the first time, and it is surprisingly aggressive even for him:

I think we have a shot at being in production for version 1 of Optimus hopefully next year.

Musk added about Tesla Optimus during the event:

It will upend our idea of what the economy is… it will be able to do basically anything humans don’t want to do. It will do it. It’s going to bring an age of abundance. It may be hard to imagine it, but as you see Optimus develop, and we will make sure it’s safe, no Terminator stuff, it will transform the world to a degree even greater than the cars.

This follows a ramp-up in excitement from the CEO about the project over the last few months.

In January, Musk said that Tesla could play a role in making Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) a reality through the humanoid robot project.

Then a few weeks later, we reported on Tesla’s AI director, Andrej Karpathy, stating he “believes ‘Tesla Bot’ is on track to become the most powerful AI development platform.”

It sounds like the project quickly graduated from something Tesla “might as well do” to a “world-changing endeavor” that is now a top priority at the company.