WESTWOOD—Elon Musk, founder and CEO of aerospace manufacturing company SpaceX, and co-founder of automaker and energy innovation company Tesla, Inc., released videos and images on Friday, May 12, of his latest project on underground tunnels.
Musk proposes using electric sleds that will transport cars through subterranean tunnels at 125 miles, or 200 kilometers, per hour. Cars would be lowered from ground level platforms about the size of two parking spaces, similar to elevators, into a network of tunnels. Electric sleds called “skates” would propel the cars from one tunnel to the next, reducing long commute times.
According to Musk’s protoype on Instagram, this mode of transportation would mean traveling from “Westwood to LAX in 5 minutes,” a 10-mile trip that currently takes about 45 minutes in traffic. In the caption, he cautioned that watching the video, which was filmed from a first-person perspective, might “cause motion sickness or seizures.”
The venture is being developed under the Boring Company, which was founded in late 2016, after Musk expressed impatience with traffic.
“Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging…” Musk tweeted in December. He added, “I am actually going to do this.”
In January 2017, Musk was reported to have begun digging a tunnel on the grounds of SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, which will reach the company’s parking structure across Crenshaw Boulevard. In April, the Boring Company unveiled a video illustrating its vision. Cars were shown being lowered into the underground tunnels and bypassing traffic issues.
Musk also revealed images on Friday of the company’s first tunnel-boring machine, named Godot, and the entry hole and starting tunnel. The full length of the first tunnel aims to run from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Culver City, Santa Monica, Westwood, and Sherman Oaks, according to Musk. In the future, he hopes to create tunnels that will cover the greater Los Angeles area.
It is not clear whether Musk will be able to obtain the necessary permits to develop the underground tunnels. Critics think the tunnels may lead to disruption during construction and more congestion problems in the long run.
Musk previously brainstormed other methods of high-speed transportation, including the Hyperloop, which would involve propelling pods through tubes with reduced air pressure at an average speed of about 600 miles, or 970 kilometers, per hour. Passengers traveling from Los Angeles to the San Francisco Bay Area would reach their destination in little over half an hour.
Along with his work at SpaceX and Tesla, Musk is a co-founder of non-profit research company OpenAI and neurotechnology company Neuralink. He was named the 80th wealthiest person in the world this month, with an estimated worth of $15.3 billion. He aims to change the world by reducing global warming and promoting sustainable energy production. He has also proposed plans for human colonization on Mars.