You really have to hand it to Elon Musk. In an era where our charismatic billionaires are either running the world or running it into the ground, he stands almost alone as a man with a genuine drive and ambition when it comes to the matter of progression. In his latest bonkers, but brilliant move, the man who wants to take us to Mars in the next decade and believes that cars re too dangerous to be driven by human beings (his primary point in the argument that AI drivers are an inevitability) has revealed a plan for easing city congestion that genuinely sounds like something pulled from the pages of a Futurama script. Musk's concept would see an underground network of tunnels transporting cars on high-speed skates travelling at 130 miles per hour. A tube for cars on skates.
The entrepreneur and Tesla founder presented his vision for The Boring Company (an infrastructure and tunnelling company founded by Musk last year after he became frustrated by LA traffic) along with a video during a TED Talk last week in Vancouver. During the talk, he explained: “One of the most soul-destroying things is traffic. It affects people in every part of the world. It takes away so much of your life. It's horrible. It's particularly horrible in LA. We're trying to dig a hole under LA, and this is to create the beginning of what will hopefully be a 3D network of tunnels to alleviate congestion.”
While recent proposals for traffic alleviation have been largely airborne, such as the flying Airbus car and the electric jet plane by Lilium, Musk's proposal involves submerging vehicles below the roads into an underground network of tunnels. The video (above) shows this process beginning when a car pulls into a bay, which then transports it underground, where it connects to a skate-like mechanism that propels the vehicle through the tunnel at speeds of up to 130-miles-per-hour. Musk added of the plan: “You have to be able to integrate the entrance and exit of the tunnel seamlessly into the fabric of the city. So by having an elevator, sort of a car skate that's on an elevator, you can integrate the entrances and exits to the tunnel network just by using two parking spaces.”
The billionaire was quick to acknowledge the costliness of underground digging, but revealed that The Boring Company was planning to cut down on expenditure by developing a machine that can simultaneously perform tunnelling and reinforcing duties. He also envisages his heavily publicised high-speed transportation system, Hyperloop, would be able to run on the same underground system. Throughout the talk, Musk also touched on his other various high-profile projects, confirming that production of Tesla's Model 3 should start in July and that the cars should be able to be used autonomously from LA to New York by the end of this year. He also used the presentation as an opportunity to defend his meetings with Donald Trump, stating he'd used the meetings to “argue in favour of immigration and climate change.” Fair enough Elon. We do need at least one sane voice up their to keep the nuclear wolves and mother nature's wrath from the door.
“I'm just trying to think about the future and not be sad” Elon Musk
Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and musician from Kidderminster in the UK.