Elon Musk has been teasing his tunneling project since he first tweeted the idea during a frustrated rant aimed at LA‘s heavy traffic in December.
Now, the first details of the radical project have been revealed.
In an appearance at the TED conference in Vancouver, Musk showed off a new video of electric ‘skates’ transporting cars in a narrow tunnel under a city before raising them back to street level in a space as small as two parking spaces.
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Inside the tunnels, Musk said cars could travel as fast as 200 kilometers per hour (roughly 130 MPH) according to Axois.
‘You should be able to go from say Westwood to LAX in 5-6 minutes,’ the Tesla and SpaceX founder said.
He admitted he is spending only 2-3 percent on the tunnel effort, which was ‘mainly interns’.
He started the talk by admitting ‘I ask myself that frequently’ when asked why he was boring.
Musk also said Tesla’s Model 3 production should start in July and that Tesla cars should be able to go fully autonomously by the end of the year from LA to New York without a driver ever having to touch a control.
When asked ‘How long until you can get in your car, fall asleep, and wake up at your destination?’ Musk replied ‘2 years’.
However, he admitted drivers should probably still stay awake.
‘If a car crashes 1 in a 1000 times, you are probably still not going to be comfortable falling asleep,’ Musk said.
‘You shouldn’t be certainly.’
Musk also defended his meetings with President Trump, saying ‘I’ve used the meetings I’ve had to argue in favor of immigration and climate change.
He hit back at claims he was the ‘saviour of humanity’ with his wide ranging ambitions to do everything from create green energy to populate Mars, saying ‘I’m not trying to be anyone’s saviour.
‘I’m just trying to think about the future and not be sad.’
Musk also revealed a teaser of the semi truck Tesla plans to introduce later this year, saying it will be ‘like a sportscar’
‘This will be a very spry truck,’ he said. You can drive it around like a sports car.’
Yesterday an Instagram user believed to be a SpaceX employee has tweeted a picture of what appears to be the firm’s first tunneling machine – although it was later removed from his account.
The giant machine is expected to be used by the firm to dig test tunnels as musk tries to improve on existing boring machines.
Earlier this year MailOnline exclusively revealed images of Musk’s tunnel, which his ‘Boring Company’ has begun digging just outside his SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
The trench measures 30 feet (9 metres) wide, 50 feet (15 metres) long, and 15 feet (4.5 metres) deep, and was started earlier this month, Wired reported.
The new images reveal excavators, cranes and security personnel surrounding a large hole in the ground.
This hole is likely where the huge Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) – revealed as ‘Nannie’ by Musk yesterday – was first lowered to begin digging.
A section of tarmac appears have been uprooted, either by Nannie’s digging or having been removed before tunneling began.
Excavators pictured at the site help to remove rubble from the back of Nannie as the machine tunnels.
A large pile of rubble can be seen behind the digging site made up of debris dug out of the ground.
The tunnel is legal because it has been dug on private property.
But extending the tunnel further than SpaceX’s headquarters would require more discussion, paperwork, and LA City council approval.
‘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 during a Hyperloop design competition at SpaceX earlier this month.
‘We have no idea what we’re doing – I want to be clear about that.’
Musk came up with a plan to create a giant tunnel under Los Angeles to ease congestion last year.
‘Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging…’, he tweeted.
When Musk first tweeted his plans to bore a tunnel to his SpaceX offices, it was hard to know if he was simply venting his frustrations about being stuck in traffic.
The technology giant proposed a slogan for the company in his string of December tweets: ‘Boring, it’s what we do.’
But he ended his rant on Twitter with: ‘I am actually going to do this’.
Earlier this month he tweeted a picture of a tunneling machine.
He posted the photo with the caption ‘Minecraft’ – a reference to the popular video game in which players dig large tunnel networks for resources.
Musk has yet to confirm, however, whether the image of the tunnel boring machine he tweeted is his own, or its exact purpose.
And just yesterday, Musk revealed the identity of his boring machine in an interview with Bloomberg.