Robotic humanoid Optimus is shown by Tesla CEO Elon Musk

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  • Tech billionaire Elon Musk has unveiled the latest prototype humanoid robot being developed by his electric car company, Tesla.

Optimus took to the stage at an event in Silicon Valley, waving and kneeling at the audience.

The CEO said the robot is in development but could be sold to the public within a few years.

Tesla’s mass-market robots will be tested on auto factory workstations, the company’s engineers say.

Musk said the robot will cost less than $20,000 (£17,900) and will be mass-produced and available in three to five years.

During the annual Artificial Intelligence Day (Tesla AI) presentation, the prototype was brought to the stage.

Tesla’s boss spoke of a “prosperous future.”

“It’s really a fundamental shift in civilization as we know it,” he continued.

Investors and financial analysts have expressed skepticism about Tesla turning to robotics, advising instead to focus on projects closer to Tesla’s core electric vehicle business. But Musk said he wants to solve one of artificial intelligence’s most difficult problems. The entrepreneur who once warned of artificial intelligence as a threat to humanity said Tesla wants to make sure the transition to a society where robots do the work and humans profit is safe.

“We always want to be careful not to go down the Terminator trail,” he warned, referring to blockbuster movies about murderous cyborgs. He added that Tesla has built in security measures, including a stop button that cannot be tampered with.

Musk argued that shareholders would decide whether a public company was socially responsible.

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