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A Robot That Can’t Pick Up Fluff Caused Tesla’s Model 3 Delays

Yes, a flufferbot. No, it's not a sandwich.

Victor TangermannMay 3rd 2018

Like a drunk person throwing rings at a carnival, Elon Musk just keeps missing the target. Investors are fuming: production of the Model 3 keeps getting delayed, and somehow the company is just burning through cash.

We finally know why it’s taking so freakin’ long for Model 3s to roll off the assembly line: because robots are the worst. Specifically: a bad robot that was bad at sticking fluff on mats.

Elon blamed the delays on what he called a “flufferbot” that was just not performing up to expectations. On a call with investors earlier this week, Slate reported that Musk said:

“Machines are not good at picking up pieces of fluff. Human hands are way better at doing that. So we had a super-complicated machine. Using a vision system to try to put a piece of fluff on a battery pack.”

Honestly, so unfair. All this flufferbot was trying to do was pick up fluff. It’s not its fault that it kept not doing that, or putting it in the wrong place. Fluff is really hard to engineer.

And to throw some wood on the burning embers of your frustration: Elon admitted the fluff wasn’t even necessary.

So, no, half a million Model 3s will not roll off the production line by the end of this year. Not by a long shot. Even if Elon personally reassigned every one of Tesla’s flufferbots.

via GIPHY

 

Elon now promises to make 5,000 Model 3s per week, more than twice the current rate. Looks like Elon has more nights on the floor of the Tesla Gigafactory in his future.

To do that, though, he might have to cut some corners. In addition to firing all the flufferbots, Musk will stop including unnecessary front-drive ports on batteries for cars that were only intended to be rear-wheel drive in the first place. Doing that would mean that it would take less than 17 minutes to assemble a battery, Slate reports.

Musk’s comments may be asinine, but they also revive hope for Tesla’s future. Yes, he’s “alienating Wall Street” and causing stocks to drop. But if this is what “taking care of business” sounds like in his board room, maybe it’ll all just work out.

Update (5/4/2018, 2:23pm): Elon Musk has publicly apoplogized, and has called his strange outlash at analysts during a conference call “foolish.”

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