Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk is sharing yet another vision for the future, and this time it's totally underground. The originator of the Hyperloop, purveyor of snazzy solar panels and man with a plan to connect our brains showed off a concept for escaping rush hour traffic via high-speed conveyance through a network of tunnels at TED in Vancouver on Friday.
Last December, Musk announced via Twitter that his irritation with Los Angeles traffic was inspiring him to start yet another company, cleverly named "The Boring Company."
"Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging…"
This month, a boring machine showed up at SpaceX headquarters near Los Angeles where it will soon begin to bore some test tunnels, and Musk shared a brief video at TED showing how he hopes to help cities dig their way under and around gridlock.
The video shows cars on the ground level pulling into specially designed platforms that Musk calls "skates." The skate is then lowered into a multi-level underground system of tunnels where the vehicle is conveyed on the skate to its destination at speeds up to 124 mph (200 km/h). Musk pointed out that it should be possible to dig tunnels several levels deep, comparing them to mines that extend several stories deep below the surface.
Of course, big dig projects are never the simplest or easiest things to complete. The world's longest railroad tunnel was recently finished in Switzerland, an achievement 17 years in the making.
However, few people are known for looking further into the future than Elon Musk, who announced his hopes to build a million-person colony on Mars by the end of the century. The Boring Company certainly doesn't seem to be in a hurry to route traffic underground anytime soon.
"This is basically interns and people doing it part time," Musk said. "We bought some second hand machinery. It's kind of puttering along but making good progress."
He joked that a snail can currently travel 14 times faster than a tunnel boring machine and a preliminary goal will be to catch up to the gastropod.
"Victory will be beating the snail," Musk said.