Elon Musk is the head of a spaceflight company, an electric car manufacturer / solar energy effort, and a brain-computer interface project. Recently, though, he added a tunnel boring company to that already crowded plate. This past weekend he spoke about The Boring Company, as he’s calling it, for the first time in public with Chris Anderson, the curator for TED Talks.
It wasn’t a hard-hitting interview — while Anderson got Musk to share some details about the tunneling project, he also teed up many of the billionaire CEO’s favorite talking points, and his followups were often “whoa” or “wow.” You can watch the full video above, but here are our 10 biggest takeaways from the conversation.
Musk wants the tunnels to span the country on a deep level
Musk said that there’s “no real limit” to the depth of his proposed tunnels. “The deepest mines are much deeper than the tallest buildings are tall, so you can alleviate any arbitrary level of open congestion with a 3D tunnel network.” This, Musk said, is how to get around the most popular rebuttal so far: that underground tunnels will simply spread the congestion to a new place without completely solving the problem of traffic. Musk thinks it will be possible to create “any arbitrary number of tunnels, any number of levels” in order to reduce congestion on the surface.
There needs to be a massive cost reduction before a tunnel network gets built
Anderson mentioned that this project sounds expensive, and Musk agreed. “We need to have at least a 10-fold improvement in the cost per mile of tunneling,” Musk said. He thinks there are two things that will allow The Boring Company to achieve that kind of cost reduction.
One is to cut the typical diameter of a tunnel “by a factor of two or more” to 12 feet. “A single-lane tunnel would have to be 26 or 28 feet in diameter to allow for emergency vehicles and ventilation for combustion engine cars,” Musk said.
Read more at The Verge.