Having got held up in traffic snarl one day in December last year, Elon Musk took to Twitter to vent his frustration, “Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging…”
While at first, it seemed nothing more than the ranting of a man frustrated with the traffic, a series of tweets from him on the subject confirmed, to some extent, the billionaire’s seriousness about his plans of building a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) to solve traffic woes.
“It shall be called “The Boring Company.”
“Boring, it’s what we do”,
“I am actually going to do this.”
The tweets came within a period of a little over three hours since the tech supremo’s first whining tweet on the subject.
Then on Jan 25, he tweeted again on his tunneling plans:
“Exciting progress on the tunnel front. Plan to start digging in a month or so”
However, just two days later he tweeted again saying that the tunneling would begin that very night, and on February 3 we got to see what appears to be Musk’s TBM when he tweeted a picture of the machine captioned “Minecraft.”
In all likelihood, his headstrong approach to building the TBM seems to be an attempt at killing two birds with one stone keeping in mind how important a role the TBMs can play in his long term plans of colonizing Mars by building habitable homes.
TBMs can be deployed on Mars to create below-the-surface homes to provide shelter to the inhabitants from the extreme and inhospitable Martian elements. NASA meanwhile has been working on building the “Mars Ice Home” on the surface of the red planet for the same purpose.
Although the proposed project is in its nascent stages, Elon Musk believes that “The Boring Company” can make TBMs with the potential of accelerating the boring process 5 to 10 times over the current boring speeds. He envisions this as the only logical answer to traffic congestion problems.
His detractors, however, may argue that the idea of building a network of tunnels beneath a metropolis is stretching it a bit too far what with the possibility of other underground services getting affected, not to forget the traffic mayhem it can potentially cause during the boring and construction phase.
Whatever disbelief people may have had over the seriousness of his tweets about boring and tunneling, Elon Musk should be taken seriously now as he has already started his experimental tunneling. Workers have excavated a 50-foot long, 30-foot wide and 15-foot deep “test trench” over the weekend at the SpaceX headquarters in Los Angeles.
“We’re just going to figure out what it takes to improve tunneling speed by, I think, somewhere between 500 and 1,000 percent,” he said on Sunday at the Hyperloop design competition at SpaceX. “We have no idea what we’re doing—I want to be clear about that.”
“You have tall buildings, they’re all 3D, and then everyone wants to go into the building and leave the building at the same time……On a 2D road network, that obviously doesn’t work, so you have to go 3D either up or down. And I think probably down,” Elon Musk said to Wired in a direct message on Twitter.
For the time being while experimental digging is ongoing on SpaceX’s private grounds, no permits are required. However, according to some reports, Musk actually did get permits from the concerned authorities.
If Musk were to go ahead with his plans of extending the tunnel from the SpaceX grounds to the Los Angeles airport, he would first be required to have more discussions, complete the necessary paperwork and get the Los Angeles City Council’s endorsement, according to a spokesperson for the LA Department of Public Works.