Musk predicts AI-powered robots will outnumber humans
The planet will have as many humanoid robots as it does people in future, according to Tesla chief executive Elon Musk, who made the bold prediction at the company's first investor event in Texas.
The tech giant also announced plans to open a fifth manufacturing plant in a bid to ramp up the supply of electric vehicles, just moments after revealing the company had passed its four million car milestone.
The announcement follows a challenging period for the brand in recent months, which saw its share price plummet and car prices cut, before it staged a modest comeback.
Mr Musk used Tesla's first Investors Day to discuss efforts to accelerate the production of electric cars and to talk about its robotic project, Optimus, previously known as the Tesla Bot.
The human-shaped robot was shown sitting upright at a table during the event, seemingly assembling a spare robotic leg, and walking around with other robots.
Mr Musk said the company had made large advances in robotics given an earlier version of the robot could not walk upright when unveiled in October last year.
"The rate of improvement here is quite significant," he said.
"It's obviously not doing parkour but it is walking around and we have multiple copies of Optimus."
Mr Musk said the Optimus robot, which was expected to sell for less than $US20,000 at launch, required engineers to create customised motors and would be designed to operate autonomously, with little input required from users.
Once available, he predicted, Tesla robots could be used for household tasks as well as in manufacturing settings and could eventually outnumber humans.
"You could sort of see a home use for robots, certainly industrial uses for humanoid robots," Mr Musk said.
"I think we might exceed a one-to-one ratio of humanoid robots to humans. It's probably the least understood or appreciated part of what we're doing at Tesla but will probably be worth significantly more than the car side of things long-term."
The automaker also used the event to reveal it had built four million vehicles, assembling its last million cars within seven months, and planned to open a fifth factory in Mexico to ramp up production.
Mr Musk said output from the Mexican Gigafactory would "supplement" production boosts from its other factories in Berlin, Texas, Nevada and Shanghai and help to grow the number of electric vehicles on roads.
"This is obviously happening really rapidly," he said. "All cars will go to fully electric and autonomous.
"Riding an non-autonomous gasoline car is going to be analogous to riding a horse and using a flip phone."
Australia is expected to have more than 100,000 electric vehicles on roads later this year, according to the EV Council, as the technology represented 3.8 per cent of all new car sales in 2022.
Tesla dominated those sales, with its Model 3 and Model Y the two most popular electric cars in Australia, making up 58 per cent of electric vehicles sold.