Despite the misleading title, Elon Musk and his projects are anything but boring. His latest, however, does involve digging underground tunnels, the action of “boring.” If you aren’t familiar with who Elon Musk is, here is a quick summary. He is the man behind PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity. PayPal reinvented how online transactions are made, and SpaceX was the first to successfully land a rocket booster back onto earth, and Tesla has made some of the most premia and in demand electric cars ever.
On December 17th, 2016, Elon Musk tweeted saying “Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging.” He also changed his bio to include “Tunnels (yes, tunnels)” as well as Tesla, SpaceX and a few of his other endeavors. Now it may seem hard to take Elon Musk seriously, but you must give the man some credit. He really does keep his Twitter word. After a Tesla owner complained on Twitter about SuperCharger wait times due to drivers leaving their cars at the station, Musk quickly got to work and instituted a fee for all drivers leaving their cars idle at the charger. So maybe he might actually be serious about this whole tunnel thing.
Since then, progress has been made on the project. The tunneling team has already begun testing out boring techniques on the SpaceX campus in Los Angeles in an attempt to speed up their efficiency and speed. Their goal is to improve tunneling speeds between 500 and 1,000 percent. Musk also stated that they “have no idea what [they] are doing.” His vision is to connect SpaceX headquarters to LAX (Los Angeles International Airport). Musk doesn’t need a permit to drill on his own property, however, he will need one once the project enters the city. Just to be clear, this is no easy endeavor. The LA Metro has discovered that these types of projects can be very costly and difficult. Relocating underground electricity, power, gas, and telecommunications lines will be necessary if this project will proceed into the city.
I believe that in the end, Musk’s vision is to change the way we view transportation. Tunneling could open new doors for creative road and subway designs. Imagine a highway that runs at three different levels and doesn’t cost a fortune to construct. Historically, digging projects + highways are not a good combination, ending mostly in failure or going grossly over budget. For example, The Big Dig in Boston. Elon Musk plans on changing this predetermined fate, however. In fact, I can also see him combining his tunneling project with the hyperloop initiative to create ultrafast, underground, point to point transportation systems that blow standard subway systems out of the water. We will definitely see more of this “boring” project from Elon Musk.