Tesla's Optimus Robot Can Kind Of Fold Clothes Now

It's not glamorous, but it's a start.

Tesla optimus robot

If there’s one thing Elon Musk likes to do (aside from posting cringe memes on X), it’s set his sights on the far-flung future of technology.

That’s why we have Neuralink, SpaceX, Starlink, and now, apparently... a robot that can kind of fold laundry.

Optimus Sub-Prime

If you’re not familiar with Optimus, Tesla’s moonshot humanoid robot, let me introduce you. Optimus is a bi-pedal bot and something of an experiment that Tesla is positioning as a helper in at-home care or potential factory worker. We’ve not seen a ton of Optimus in action, but recently, Tesla showed off a somewhat unlikely new skill: laundry folding.

On the surface, it may seem odd to put such a supposedly advanced robot to the test on such a mundane task, but when you consider the level of fine motor skills it takes to fold a shirt, it makes a lot more sense.

Robots have done a pretty great job in manufacturing settings with repetitive tasks — assembling cars and other products, for example — but when it comes to finesse, things tend to fall apart. You may not realize it when you’re blazing through a bunch of clean laundry, but the variables between each article of clothing are extremely high.

Not every shirt is the same size; different pieces of clothing have different shapes; even different materials might need different levels of delicacy. There have been other attempts at building a laundry-folding robot, mind you, and even for a robotics team dedicated to building a robot that does just one thing, the journey hasn’t been easy.

Now, whether Optimus actually excels at laundry folding is another thing altogether. As you may have noticed, the folding process is a little... slow. As is with everything that Optimus does at this point, folding is still a work in progress and is meant to showcase the future more than demonstrate a working product.

So What?

Sure, folding one shirt isn’t going to revolutionize home robotics as we know it, but it’s definitely a demonstration of progress when it comes to Optimus’ capabilities. Ultimately, Tesla has positioned Optimus as a tool for at-home care or having applications in taking over dangerous factory work.

Clearly, it’s not ready to take on either of those tasks in full, but Tesla is hoping to convince people one unfolded shirt at a time that robots really are the future we’ve all been waiting for.

Related Tags