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Tesla teases Dojo supercomputer and partnership with famed roboticist

Tesla is teasing its upcoming new Dojo supercomputer, and famed roboticist Dennis Hong all but confirms that his lab is going to be working with the automaker.

Last month, Elon Musk announced that Tesla will hold an “AI Day” on August 19 to discuss the company’s progress with artificial intelligence to develop self-driving.

The CEO described the event as a recruiting opportunity for the automaker:

Looking at holding Tesla AI Day in about a month or so. Will go over progress with Tesla AI software & hardware, both training & inference. Purpose is recruiting.

On the AI software front, Tesla is expected to give updates on its Tesla Vision computer vision system and all the neural nets it is developing in its self-driving effort.

As for hardware, Tesla is expected to give an update on its supercomputer program, which is going to lead to Tesla Dojo, an upcoming supercomputer optimized for neural net training.

Musk previously revealed that Tesla’s Dojo supercomputer will be capable of an exaFLOP, one quintillion (1018) floating-point operations per second, or 1,000 petaFLOPS – making it one of the most powerful supercomputers on earth.

Now with the invites to the event going out, Tesla is starting to tease Dojo with this image of a module:

It shows a multi-layered module with what appears to be 25 Dojo chips.

The image was shared by Dennis Hong, a famed roboticist who is behind the Robotics & Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa) at UCLA.

After he posted the image on Twitter, someone asked him if his lab is now associated with Tesla, and Hong all but confirmed it:

RoMeLa is famous for its participation in some robotic challenges with a focus on humanoid robots and autonomous driving vehicles.

Here’s the summary of the lab on their website:

The Robotics & Mechanisms Laboratory at UCLA is a facility for graduate and undergraduate robotics research and education with an emphasis on studying humanoid robots and novel mobile robot locomotion strategies. Our research interests are in the area of Robot Locomotion & Manipulation, Soft Actuators, Platform Design, Kinematics and Mechanisms, and Autonomous Systems. RoMeLa is also active in research based international robotics competitions winning numerous top prizes including the ‘DARPA Urban Challenge’ (3rd place, $500,000 prize), the international autonomous robot soccer competition ‘RoboCup’ (First Place in both the Kid-Size and Adult-Size Humanoid divisions, World Champions three times in a row, and brought the prestigious ‘Louis Vuitton Cup Best Humanoid Award’ to the United States for the very first time) and most recently being one of the six Track A teams chosen to participate in the disaster response robot competition ‘DARPA Robotics Challenge’ for the $2M top prize.

While the nature of the potential partnership with Tesla is unknown, it could be similar to Tesla’s partnership with Jeff Dahn’s battery lab at Dalhousie University.

Through that partnership, Tesla provides funding to the lab, which in return produces research for the automaker.

It’s also a great recruiting tool for the company, as they often hire from the lab team.

We expect to learn more about this potential partnership on August 19.

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