Elon Musk wants to give amputees robotic limbs powered by chips implanted in their brains

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Elon Musk wants to give amputees robotic limbs powered by chips implanted in their brains
Tesla's Optimus bot at AI Day on September 30, 2022YouTube
  • Elon Musk floated an idea for a new line of Tesla products on Wednesday: robotic limbs.
  • You read that right.
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Between SpaceX rocket launches, visits to the Tesla production line, and serving up dank memes on Twitter, Elon Musk apparently has time to ponder new product ideas.

While updating investors on Tesla's second-quarter performance on Wednesday, the billionaire entrepreneur floated an idea for a new line of Tesla products: robotic limbs. You read that right.

The Muskiverse can be confusing and fast-moving, so let me bring you up to speed. At a Tesla event in late 2021, Musk said the carmaker was developing a human-like robot. The Tesla Bot would be 5-foot-8, walk 5 miles-per-hour, be powered by AI and cameras, and be able to relieve humans of the drudgery of factory work and other manual labor, Musk said. He added that we human overlords will be able to overpower the robot if needed, so that's nice.

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Elon Musk wants to give amputees robotic limbs powered by chips implanted in their brains
A Tesla Bot rendering.Tesla/Reuters

Then in late 2022, while Musk was embroiled in a bitter fight to back out of his deal to buy Twitter, Tesla showed off an actual prototype. Musk has said that the robot program, dubbed the Optimus project, is the most important project Tesla is working on and that it could eventually make more money than its core car business. For Tesla investors, that's exciting.

That brings us back to robotic limbs.

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On Tesla's earnings call, an investor question came in about the progress of the Optimus bot — specifically, the person was wondering how many robots Tesla has built. Musk answered, sort of, then went on to hype up another potential use for Optimus tech: high-tech prosthetics.

Elon Musk wants to give amputees robotic limbs powered by chips implanted in their brains
Tesla's Optimus bot demo video for AI DayYouTube

Combining advanced robotics from Tesla with brain-implant technology from one of Musk's other ventures, Neuralink, could give amputees "a robot arm or leg that is as good, maybe better long term, than a biological one," the Tesla CEO said. Neuralink is working on implants that allow people with physical disabilities to control a computer or mobile device with their brains.

"We believe we can give, basically, a cyborg body that is incredibly capable," Musk said.

Keep in mind that Musk, on top of his many achievements, has proclaimed lots of new inventions that haven't materialized.

For years, he's said self-driving Teslas are right around the corner. The Tesla Roadster, an impossibly quick supercar that's supposed to hover short distances, is years behind schedule. In 2015, Tesla showed off a robotic EV charger that would automatically plug into a Tesla's charging port, but that never amounted to anything.

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As for Optimus, Musk said on Wednesday that he's confident that the robots will be doing "something useful" in Tesla factories come next year.

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