Tesla and SpaceX’s Elon Musk has floated the idea in the past of digging tunnels under highways to reduce traffic – an idea he had while sitting in Los Angeles traffic. Now he is apparently serious about doing it and he even has a name and tagline for the venture: “The Boring Company – Boring, it’s what we do.”
He has been thinking about the idea for a while. In January 2016, he mentioned it during SpaceX’s Hyperloop pod design competition:
“It’s a really simple and obvious idea and I wish more people would do it: build more tunnels. Tunnels are great. It’s just a hole in the ground, it’s not that hard. But if you have tunnels in cities you would massively alleviate congestion and you could have tunnels at all different levels – you could probably have 30 layers of tunnels and completely fix the congestion problem in high-density cities. So I strongly recommend tunnels.”
Earlier this morning, he said that he is going to build a new tunnel boring machine (like the picture above) and “just start digging”:
Maybe you think he is just kidding? Apparently, he is not kidding:
The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, and co-founder of OpenAI, even updated his Twitter status to list his new venture – see on the right.
The tunnel boring machine (TBM) that Musk is talking about building, also known as a “mole,” is a machine used to excavate tunnels that can bore through anything from hard rock to sand.
They are already used for projects like pipelines and other situations that require digging over long distances, but Musk is talking about digging in urban areas – something that comes with its own set of challenges since the ground surface must be undisturbed throughout the process.
Considering it’s already being done in some forms, it’s far from being Musk’s craziest idea to become a reality. After landing the first stage of a rocket and now with some serious developments on his original hyperloop idea, we wouldn’t be surprised to find Musk digging tunnels one day.
It would be a good test bed for his Martian colony, which could use some good digging techniques to build habitats safe from the extreme cold, low pressure, and high radiation of the red planet.
Of course, the main goal is still to reduce traffic, which has other positive consequences than just making your commute a little less painful. It also reduces fuel consumption and therefore carbon emissions.
Maybe he can get Donald Trump on board with his infrastructure plan. After all, Musk is on the President-elect’s Strategic and Policy team now.