Roads would soon become the boring alternative to the underground tunnels that Elon Musk’s ‘The Boring Company’ is digging. The future looks like it will have us shuttling at high speeds beneath the surface of the earth, mitigating today’s traffic woes by unimaginable amounts.
From going to Mars to creating Solar houses to revolutionizing artificial intelligence, Elon Musk has set his footprints in every major technological breakthrough. Being well known for his ideas of revamping transport systems, Musk recently begun a spur-of-the-moment project of digging tunnels under the ground for quicker travel.
The visionary has always pointed towards 3D roads – roads above and under the ground as flying cars and tunnels to solve the traffic problems prevailing worldwide. He has also leaned towards tunnels as the more viable option – since unlike flying cars, tunnels are weather-proof and won’t fall on people’s heads.
TUNNELS BENEATH THE EARTH
In late 2016, Elon Musk tweeted about traffic driving him crazy, and his idea of boring under the earth to create tunnels. Soon after, his company began works of digging a 30-foot-wide, 50-foot-long, and 15-foot-deep tunnel in the SpaceX premises. Musk then built a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) in April 2017 to do the digging.
Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging…
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 17, 2016
The Boring Company aims at building a 3D tunnel network underneath the surface, with unlimited levels of tunnels. Elon Musk mentioned that if there is to be a limit to the number of tunnels, vehicular congestion would take over the tunnels as well. He stated that, “the deepest mines are much deeper than the tallest buildings are tall”, implying that his tunnels are going to stretch deep into earth. Moreover, the cars that are to be driving through the tunnels will be mounted on electric car skates. To enter the tunnel, a car would dock onto an elevator with a car skate on the road, which will descend into the tunnel. These skates will then attach to a platform to zoom off at astonishing speeds nearing 200 km/h.
The first tunnel will be built from Los Angeles to Westwood, which are separated by a distance of 23 kilometers. This journey – that takes nearly 45 minutes with regular traffic – will take only 5 minutes. Musk’s company, having got government approval, will be building more tunnels connecting other key cities like New York and Washington D.C.
In a TED talk, Elon Musk stated that tunnels are incredibly expensive to build and cited a project that costed as much as $1 billion per mile. This Boring project reduces costs considerably, by decreasing the tunnel diameter. This is in turn done by using electric skates as described earlier, which reduce tunnel diameters by half – and this cuts down tunneling costs by 3-4 times.
Adding to this, Musk has proved that tunnels are earthquake-proof since they would move uniformly with respect to the ground, contrary to surface structures.
Updates on the Boring project also suggest that the underground tunnels are going to be used for Hyperloop pods. Adding a vacuum shell to the tunnels would essentially make a Hyperloop pod that could travel at speeds nearing 1000 km/h. The Hyperloop is another futuristic transport idea of Musk, to make long-distance journeys extremely quick and cheap.
With all these unbelievable statistics, it is quite logical to believe that Elon Musk must be working day and night on this project. However, he casually says that this takes up only 2% of his time. What turns out to be a hobby for this man, is going to make transport systems more advanced than ever before.