A white Tesla SUV lowers about 30 feet on an elevator, a pair of side wheels emerge from underneath the nose and with the Jackson 5's "Dancing Machine" cranked up on the stereo, the driver guides it into a mile-long tunnel.
Billionaire Elon Musk hopes the underground portal will be the future of urban transportation.
For the first time, Musk's Boring Co. offered rides in the 1.14-mile-long tunnel it has dug next to the Los Angeles suburban headquarters of rocket maker SpaceX, where Musk is CEO. In introducing the underground passage to media and invited guests, Musk said he sees tunnel networks as a solution to urban traffic congestion.
"There is a path to alleviate traffic congestion in cities," Musk explained in meeting with reporters. "We’re not saying stop all other solutions. We’re saying this is a solution that will actually work."
Musk envisions cities building networks of tunnels that will allow motorists to zip point-to-point virtually unimpeded with little time spent on streets. Costs could be as little as $1 per passenger, he said. The system would be made affordable based on a breakthrough in drilling technology that the Boring Co. is working to perfect, leading to a five-fold increase in the speed of tunneling for starters and perhaps more in the future.
But the strategy outlined with Musk and Boring Co. leader Steve Davis leaves plenty of room for skepticism. Tunneling is complicated. It can bog down amid concerns over oil or natural gas pockets and changing geology. Except for its 6,000-foot tunnel, the Boring Co. has no track record and is yet to employ the technologies that it hopes will cut the costs of cutting through the earth.