Elon Musk’s Plan to Prevent Traffic


Kaitlin Lee, Staff Writer

During a TED Talk presentation, Elon Musk, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO and co-chair of Open Chair, revealed his vision for the future of transportation – a system of underground tunnels to decrease traffic.

He had first introduced his idea through a vague yet exciting tweet he wrote in December 2016. Stuck in one of Los Angeles (LA)’s notoriously long traffic jams, he tweeted, “Traffic is driving me nuts. I am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging…”. It wasn’t clear how serious he truly was. Then, in January, Musk announced he had already started making progress toward his tunnel plan. “This is really a very simple and obvious idea,” Musk had said. “You could have tunnels at all different levels. You could probably have 30 levels of tunnels and completely fix the congestion problem.” 

Traffic is driving me nuts. I am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging…”

— Elon Musk

Now it appears that the Boring Company has its first piece of hardware, according to a picture Musk tweeted that shows a tunnel-digging machine sporting the Boring Company’s logo. Also, according to CNN, Musk has already begun experimenting by digging through privately owned lands.

With a computer-generated video, Musk revealed his plan. The video showed a system of underground tunnels that crisscrossed over each other in order to avoid any traffic jams. The tunnels could be accessed by cars on street level with a specialized elevator, and vehicles would be transported through the tunnels at 124 miles per hour.

Traditionally, tunneling has been incredibly expensive, costing hundreds of millions of dollars per mile. However, Musk has already proven he can dramatically reduce the costs of pulling off incredibly advanced engineering challenges, as his rocket company SpaceX has used low costs to achieve its goals of reaching and orbiting through space. Musk has also been known for doing the once-impossible. With Tesla, he built a successful car startup that could compete with other manufacturers and, just recently, Tesla became the most valuable car company in the United States.

Musk’s new interest in tunnels has once again also brought him into conflict with his rival Jeff Bezos, the founder and chairman of Amazon. The two have competed in the rocket industry and have sparred on Twitter over their space accomplishments. Earlier in January, Amazon had received a blueprint for delivering packages through tunnels. Although it is unclear whether Amazon will actually follow through the plans or not, it’s clear that Musk is not the only billionaire looking towards tunnels as the future of transportation.

Although Musk’s plan is still just a video, he could potentially lead the path to the future and advancement of transportation engineering, as he did in many other fields. The computer-generated mock-up we have right now may soon become the new way to getting around LA.

Photo courtesy of IMPACTALPHA.COM