Already an enterpreneurial legend, creating revolutionary companies in several industries, Elon Musk wants to transform transportation by tunneling under cities. Maybe.
The current innovation by the rule-breaking Musk got out into the world, as important things do nowadays, via Twitter. With Musk’s SpaceX office in Los Angeles located in a heavy traffic area near the airport, he's been tweeting in December 2016 what he could do about it. Fed up with the traffic, he could start boring underground, a movie villain move.
Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging...— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 17, 2016
People couldn’t really figure out whether he was just trolling us or being serious, especially as he proposed to call it “The Boring Company”.
It turns out he was serious, after all. Musk announced in a tweet on January 25th that there’s been “exciting progress” with regards to the tunneling idea. Not just that - he plans to start digging in a month.
Exciting progress on the tunnel front. Plan to start digging in a month or so.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 25, 2017
What would be inside these tunnels? Hyperloops? It’s not clear if Musk is planning some sort of cooperation between his ventures. But a vision of underground Hyperloops zipping us around the world appeals to the imagination.
As Hyperloop design and construction continues, with the first full test expected at the North Las Vegas site within the next three months, its overall potential is coming into greater focus. After the planned three routes will go into production within 5 years, Hyperloop plans to keep expanding until creating a giant network of interconnected cities. With speeds up to 750 mph, it could make travel amazingly fast, like going from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 35 minutes. Once it spreads internationally, such a network could be transformative for the global economy.
A 2003 World Metro Map, designed by Mark Ovenden, shows a similar idea of a global underground system. Here’s what that would look like:
Where would the first tunnel be? Musk (maybe) jokes that he wants to help himself first, tweeting that the tunnel will be starting right from his office:
@_wsimson Starting across from my desk at SpaceX. Crenshaw and the 105 Freeway, which is 5 mins from LAX— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 25, 2017
As far as what’s next with Musk’s plan, we await the details. USA Today reported on the difficulties he would face when confronted with the permitting process in Los Angeles.
Elon Musk is someone who generally follows through, however, especially if we are to judge by his updated Twitter bio, which now includes this list: “Tesla, SpaceX, Tunnels & OpenAI.”
Of note is also his recent public openness to making deals with President Trump as well as expressed support for the Secretary of State candidate Rex Tillerson, whom Musk sees as a solid executive who would do well in the position. Musk’s meeting with President Trump added to the speculation that his Boring Company might come under Trump’s expected infrastructure improvement plan.
It feels like a decent prediction that Los Angeles will get tunnelled soon.
Here’s USA Today’s exciting presentation on the subject:
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk unveils large utility scale home batteries at the Tesla Design Studio in Hawthorne, California, April 30, 2015. (Photo credit: DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images)
A miner stands in front of a giant drilling machine that completed the world's longest tunnel beneath the Swiss Alps during a ceremony on October 15, 2010, 30 kilometres (19 miles) from one end and 2,000 metres below the mountains near Sedrun. (Photo credit: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)