Why is this billionaire boring mysterious tunnels under the earth?
A billionaire is boring tunnels under the ground, and the press are declaring it a bad idea. Nevertheless, eccentric entrepreneur Elon Musk wants a traffic solution. He is also rarely swayed by the opinions of others. So he simply got to work last weekend.
Musk has been in talks with the City of Los Angeles about his ideas for easing traffic congestion. So far, he is running up against a little skepticism. However, his track record for creative innovation is well known. It could well work in his favor.
The Founder of Tesla and SpaceX, Musk is a champion of making the world a better place. His creativity always has a focus on human progress, but not at the expense of the planet. He has developed solar panel roof tiles and electric cars that don’t cost the earth or empty the pocket.
Elon Musk: New Company
Musk first hinted at his tunnel boring plans mid-December 2016. He tweeted that he was merely going to build a boring machine and start digging. And indeed he did. He has created a company, creatively called “The Boring Company.” They built their boring machine and put it to use on the grounds of SpaceX.
Musk has claimed the machine bored a hole 15 meters long, 9 meters wide and 4.5 meters deep. Surprisingly, Musk blatantly admits that he has no idea what he is doing. Right now his focus is on improving the boring machine. He wants to improve its speeds by 500-1000%, and hone techniques.
It is not just traffic that has motivated Musk to dive into the tunneling business. Around a month ago there was a car crash that hit 3 of his SpaceX employees.
They had been attempting to navigate crossing dangerous traffic outside the campus. Musk wishes to prevent further accidents.
Musk required no permits to begin experimental boring on his company grounds. And the City of LA may authorize him to build a tunnel or pedestrian bridge. Clearly, this is understandable as it would be a safety measure to prevent further accidents.
Elon Musk: Plan
But he has also nudged the City of Los Angeles to allow his grander plans. He has stated in the past his intentions to bore a tunnel to LA Airport. But the citizens of Los Angeles may have a resistant attitude.
Not only does tunneling underground involve many unknowns, but it is also loud and messy.
Many locals are uncomfortable having their lives interrupted with noise and disruption.
Past tunneling by other companies has ended in lawsuits and unexpected costs.
Tunneling also involves navigating environmental laws. Musk feels confident, however, because of his track record of environmentally friendly innovations. Worryingly, his open admission that he “doesn’t know what he is doing” hints to what could become his obstacles.
The underground terrain is somewhat uncharted and unpredictable
It is not easy to determine what obstacles a boring machine would face. And despite Musk’s determinate to tweak and improve his boring machine, there could be too many unexpected variables.
What is uncertain is if his tunneling will incorporate his “Hyperloop Technology.” On January 29 SpaceX held a hyperloop competition to demonstrate hyperloop capabilities. The press is touting Hyperloop as being the future of transportation, and competition is hotting up.
Transportation Good News: Elon Musk
Already two major companies are signing international deals to develop Hyperloop transportation. Hyperloop TT has already signed with the state of California and Slovakia. Hyperloop One claims to have deals in several countries underway. Dubai is set to be the first country to bring this transportation to reality for public use.
However, this transportation is currently primarily designed to work above ground. It works by creating a vacuum inside an airtight tunnel.
Pods can travel up to speeds similar to that of an aircraft.
For example, Melbourne to Sydney would take 55 mins. Currently, by car or train, it can take between 10-11 hours.
Musk has not made a direct connection between his tunneling plans and his Hyperloop aspirations. Hyperloop would seem like a better alternative. Especially given the concerns about his tunneling ideas backfiring and creating more traffic. Hyperloop technology is environmentally friendly and cheap to set up and run.
Experts suggest tunneling more roads is a rather strange idea for Musk to have.
Better solutions to reduce traffic would include more convenient and regular public transport. Carpooling is also a good alternative. Charging solo drivers and tollways have worked for other places.
In the meantime, we will await the next chapter in Musk’s eccentric adventures into tunneling!