Innovation

Elon Musk Backs His Own Groundbreaking Tunnel Plan

Dos Equis has the “Most Interesting Man in the World.” Tesla has the most boring man in the world — but in a good way (maybe).

Tesla Founder Elon Musk has added another prong to his master plan to save the world, an ambitious tunneling project called The Boring Company that aims to alleviate Los Angeles traffic by creating a network of tunnels beneath the city.

Musk just poured $100 million into the venture. An additional $13 million in new funding came from early employees, according to a report by Recode, which noted that there were no outside investors.

Elon Musk’s Master Plan

Musk’s vision is a zero-emissions, high-speed tunnel network that would provide an alternative means of transit for single riders and personal vehicles. At its introduction in 2017, the plan initially focused on transporting passenger vehicles, but Musk has now shifted his approach to focus on public transit.

Musk tweeted last month that the tunnels, “will still transport cars, but only after all personalized mass transit needs are met. It’s a matter of courtesy & fairness. If someone can’t afford a car, they should go first.”

He said the urban loop system would have thousands of small stations where riders could board and disembark very close to their destination. These stations would be the size of a parking space and would blend into the fabric of the city, he said.

The Boring Company is working to reduce costs, tunnel sizes and project lengths for new ventures — first in Los Angeles, then in other markets.

If Musk gets his way, The Boring Company could soon be tunneling under the streets of Chicago as well. It is one of two finalists bidding for a proposed downtown Chicago-O’Hare transportation system, the other being O’Hare Express LLC.

Breaking Ground

The first tunnel from Los Angeles International Airport to Culver City, Santa Monica, Westwood and Sherman Oaks, has already been partially completed. The 305-foot tunnel has an entrance in the parking lot of the headquarters to SpaceX (which Musk also founded and owns). Musk recently posted a first-person photo from the dashboard of his Tesla, facing into the tunnel.

However, more difficult than cracking through stone will be cracking through the resistance of city leadership. A project of this magnitude is bound to run into some red tape, and that’s what Musk is facing now from the Culver City Council.

The council was wary when Musk presented the idea earlier this year, seeking approval for a 6.5-mile “proof of concept” tunnel. One council member called the proposal “half-baked,” while others were open to continuing the discussion despite the many questions and concerns that still must be addressed.

The necessary permits from the Bureau of Engineering will require the council’s approval. Meanwhile, in better news, the Los Angeles Board of Building and Safety Commissioners has already signed off on the proof of concept and is seeking an exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to accelerate the project.

The Boring Company did get the green light to extend the tunnel from SpaceX by another two miles, and a 2.7-mile tunnel has been approved in West Los Angeles, where the city has prepared a CEQA Notice of Exemption to accelerate the project.

Funding Sources

In addition to Musk’s own contributions, the company has also raised funds by selling a bizarre line of Boring Company-branded products, including a hat and a flamethrower. Next, Musk plans to start selling LEGO-like interlocking hollow bricks made of rock that is removed in the creation of the tunnels.

According to CNBC, the blocks can be used for fun and art — the first product will be an ancient Egypt-themed kit with pyramids, Sphinx, a Temple of Horus, and more — or for actual building projects.

Musk noted via Twitter that the blocks will be strong enough to withstand earthquakes, per California building regulations, but will be bored in the middle to keep them light. (They will also, he noted, be flamethrower-proof.)

For Musk, these “Boring Bricks” are a way to recycle the waste from his project (which has already removed over 250,000 pounds of rock from underneath Los Angeles) and contribute to affordable building projects at the same time.

“And they said I’d never be a rock star,” the billionaire quipped on Twitter.

——————————–

Latest Insights: 

Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. Check out our April 2019 Unattended Retail Report. 

TRENDING RIGHT NOW

To Top