By on April 29, 2017

[Image: The Boring Company/YouTube]

Break out the acai berry juice — there’s another futuristic transportation vision emerging from the fevered mind of Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

During a TED talk in Vancouver on Friday, Musk teased an image of his company’s upcoming electric big rig. The vehicle, scheduled for a September reveal, isn’t the only truck bound for Tesla showrooms — the automaker expects to debut a pickup in the next 18 to 24 months.

While we’ve known about the impending semi truck for some time, Musk also choose Friday to drop a video showing what he feels is the Next Big Thing in efficient transportation: underground electric sleds for your car.

tesla-semi-truck

If you’re the type who doesn’t follow the latest Tesla/Musk news with breathless anticipation, you’ve probably never heard of The Boring Company. No, not Hewlett-Packard. The Boring Company is Musk’s latest venture, designed to bring about an underground solution to above-ground gridlock.

The company, which is already testing a tunnel boring machine at Musk’s SpaceX headquarters, wants cars to drive onto elevator platforms disguised as roadside parking spots, after which the vehicle and platform is lowered into a tunnel. The Tron-like platform — basically a wheeled, electrically powered sled — then transports the vehicle via an automated underground highway at speeds reaching 124 miles per hour.

During his talk, Musk claimed the system could get drivers from the Los Angeles suburb of Westwood to LAX in five or six minutes. As you might expect, there’s no shortages of challenges to this vision. Cost tops the list. As Boston will tell you, tunneling doesn’t come cheap, though Musk claims The Boring Company’s boring machine could chew through a mile of California dirt every week, making construction speed less of an issue.

Besides the financial feasibility, there’s also the matter of regulatory approval.

While The Boring Company will have its hands full working out those wrinkles, there’s no shortage of work waiting for Musk back at Tesla. Besides bringing the Electric Semi to fruition (and finding a market for it), the company expects to begin production of its affordable Model 3 sedan this summer. Timeliness is crucial, but so is build quality.

The issues that plagued both the Model S and X should have everyone in Fremont on their toes, as there won’t be much cash available for fancy dreams if the Model 3 leaves the oven half baked.

[Image: The Boring Company/YouTube; Tesla, Inc]

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33 Comments on “Tesla Teases a Big Rig; Musk Wants Your Car to Go Sledding...”


  • avatar
    ScarecrowRepair

    So streets will be littered with huge holes alongside the curbs. Cool.

  • avatar
    dont.fit.in.cars

    Never happen

    • 0 avatar
      Thinkin...

      True.

      But let’s remember that just this morning Musk put a spy satellite into orbit for the US Defense Dept, and he did it for less than 1/3 the cost of other private contractor, ULA – which has the full resources of Lockheed and Boeing behind it. (And the ULA exec said that SpaceX is so far ahead that they could never compete on cost…)

      Proper inventors dream big, nothing wrong with that.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Yep.

        Oftentimes, my response to a Musk proposal like this is “Elon Musk says $#!t all the time”.

        Then I remember he’s already delivered about 10% of the $#!t he says, and what he’s done so far is already changing the world.

        I’ll take that over the $#!t most people say!

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Boring

  • avatar
    SnarkyRichard

    Dating Amber Heard is making him dumber already .

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Not sure why anyone with a penny would wallow in Depp’s golddigging leftovers, but being dependent on regularly making it from Westwood/Bel Air to LAX on anything resembling some dispatch, can really do a job on one’s sense of what is considered a reasonable solution to rush hour traffic.

      Technically, and earth quakes aside, automatic borers/earth conveyors/tunnelwall builders have been in development for a long time. Tunneling “shouldn’t” have to be as complex, slow and expensive as it currently is. Finding somewhere to dispose of the removed earth, will always be a problem. But Musk being Musk, perhaps a SpaceX launch site off shore LAX is in the planning stages? Or just some extended runways?

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        “Finding somewhere to dispose of the removed earth, will always be a problem.”

        No, you just stow it in your pockets and dump it in the ballfield, “Great Escape” style!

  • avatar
    brn

    It’s good to think big, but there are limits. The cost of something like this is more than prohibitive. It’s absurd.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      So is going to Mars just because. The whole point is developing technology to make it cheaper. Eventually cheap enough to be viable. Not to build it before/unless such technology is at least in the beta stages.

      Heck, if the almost comical wealth concentrations, and subsequent removal of all limitations on “dreaming big” for it’s beneficiaries; that has resulted from Nixon going Full Retard in ’71; can’t even bring about the occasional long shot/moon shot; then it has really been nothing but the most abject of obvious failures in all of history.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      “It’s good to think big, but there are limits. The cost of something like this is more than prohibitive. It’s absurd.”

      That cost and speed (which are related) are what The Boring Company’s engineering effort are focusing on.

      Musk wants to hot-rod his TBM until it can beat the pet snail that they keep in the office in a race, while cutting costs. He thinks that such an effort could make tunnel boring about 10x faster.

      As I said above, Elon Musk says a lot of things. I’m just repeating/explaining what he said. I’m neither a miner, nor a tunnel borer, nor a civil engineer, so this is beyond my area of expertise. But he does seem to believe the point you brought up is central to the effort.

  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    Drilling out huge swaths of dirt in a place already prone to frequent and damaging earthquakes. What could possibly go wrong?

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      “What could possibly go wrong?”

      Lots of stuff. And if that was not the case, Musk would be working on something else. Letting the less fortunate pick the lower hanging fruit.

  • avatar
    RHD

    Elon Musk has so many futuristic ideas, he must be from 2107, and his time travel machine either won’t go back or or he’s just having a blast implementing the future on is.
    People enjoy making fun of Musk, but he’s going to be up there with Marconi and Edison in the history books.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      I tend to think of Musk more as a Howard Hughes, without the Vegas penthouse meltdown.

      But, yeah, I sometimes wonder if he’s just a geek who somehow fell upon a copy of Wikipedia from around 2117-ish.

  • avatar
    markf

    Marconi and Edison were scientists/engineers that actually invented stuff. Musk is rich guy who started a money losing car company inventing nothing. His other claim to fame is making ridiculous statements like this one. He is a huckster and it is criminal to mention him in the same breath as someone like Marconi……

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Comparing him to legendary scientists, is certainly a stretch. But at least the guy is doing something.

      You almost have to be a huckster to get anywhere in the bankster era, as selling promises to the banksters who are the only ones left with money to buy anything for, is the only way to get any money.

      Now, having sold enough promises to be in the position to direct quite some amount of economic resources, at least Musk puts a good share of those resources, as well as his personal reputation, into things that are proper long shots. And would hence never get funded by the usual channels of risk averse “investors.”

      And if there is any at all social utility of having filthy rich people around, the fact that they are the ones who can afford long shots, is surely it. So,whatever Musk may be, at least he is infinitely more useful than some bankster sitting around wanking on endlessly about “diversifying his portfolio.”

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I marvel at people who heckle Mr Musk’s accomplishments.

      That “huckster” has shipped over 200k cars (employing 30000 people), has spacecraft docking with the International Space Station (employing another 6000 people) whose first stage boosters land upright for re-use, and has 300k+ customers waiting to buy Tesla’s next car.

      Come to think of it, I guess he really has duped a lot of people.

    • 0 avatar
      Snooder

      Uh, actually his “claim to fame” is founding Paypal.

      Let’s be honest, even if he never did anything worthwhile after that, that’s already pretty damn impressive.

      Also, you DO realize that Musk has a engineering degree from Stanford, right? Comouter Engineering sure, but that totally counts.

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    BS now as it ever was. The real estate acquisition costs alone are in the billions . It also wouldn’t solve anything- the sled system would become overburdened and congested itself in short order.

    This cocaine powered fantasy isn’t about revolutionizing transportation or fixing “traffic”. It’s about polishing Elon Musk’s reputation as an innovative tech mogul as his auto company suffers from product quality problems and labor issues.

    When GM needs marketing ,they buy ads. When Tesla needs a PR boost Musk snorts a line and grabs a mic.

  • avatar

    Is the Tesla bubble gonna burst any time soon? As much as you can appreciate Musk’s vigor with which he pushed electric luxury cars, he’s naive when it comes to plans such as his tunnel boring and Hyperloop. Both require enormous commitments and investments in infrastructure. And the comments he made demonstrate that he needs to catch up on his reading with regard to aerial vehicles (“flying cars”).

  • avatar
    whitworth

    Ever notice every business idea Elon Musk has involves the taxpayer massively subsidizing it?

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Ever notice how “conservative” whining about massive taxpayer subsidies is usually done via their personal computers, and the Internet, two technologies that were massively subsidized by taxpayers?

      And no one ever made any money off personal computers, or the Internet. Not one dollar. Darn gummint!

      • 0 avatar
        markf

        your comparison of Musk building tax subsidized toys for the wealthy and DARPANet inventing IP routing routing are way off. Musk isn’t inventing anything, he is taking 100+ year old technology, packing it in appealing way and getting taxpayers to help subsidize it.

        DARPANet was a DARPA project whose results benefited the public by the eventual internet/World Wide Web.

        One was a Government agency using tax money for Defense research.

        The other is building sports cars for wealthy folks and getting Federal and State taxpayers to subsidize it cause “electric”

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          “…taking 100+ year old technology…”

          The batteries in Teslas are lithium-ion, and that technology was invented in the 1980s.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium-ion_battery

          Therefore, either a) I guess we’re really in the 2080s, or b) you have no idea what you’re talking about.

          And tax subsidies for electric cars aren’t just for the wealthy. You can get one on a freakin’ $30,000 Leaf.

          But, hey, let’s run with the “taxpayers are subsidizing expensive products” line, OK? The government didn’t just subsidize the development of microchips that led to the PC- it subsidized people buying the first generation of PCs themselves.

          Back in the early ’80s, the PC AT my dad bought had a pricetag exceeding $10,000. I’d say that’s an expensive product. And guess what? Taxpayers funded a tax credit for the people who bought them (my dad included), just like we fund tax credits for electric cars today. And that tax credit helped spur demand for the computers, enabling the companies who made them to amortize their R/D costs and introduce better models very quickly. A few years later, there were all kinds of companies making continually improving PCs. Tens of thousands of people got paid to engineer, design, market, manufacture and sell them, and paid taxes on what they made.

          And what do you see now with electric cars? My gosh, you see more models being introduced. And people get paid to engineer, design, market, manufacture and sell them, and pay taxes on what they make.

          What a dumb idea…right?

          Seriously, dude…if you’re gonna argue politics, try getting your basic facts straight.

          • 0 avatar
            markf

            Dude, my facts are straight. I am not talking about 30K Nissan Leafs or Microchips from the 80s I am talking about Tesla, whose auto business model is based on taxpayer subsidies.

            Nissan does not need taxpayer subsidies to survive, Tesla does. The Leaf only exists to make Gov bureaucrats happy. No car maker seriously believes electric is the future. They pump out crappy electric vehicles because of Gov regulations, not because they are interested in being in the electric car biz.

            Nissan isn’t selling 120K electric cars, Tesla is. Its a luxury product for the wealthy with no benefit for anyone but the individual who purchased it.

            I don’t care about your Dad’s microchip from 40 years ago. Moore’s law doesn’t need taxpayer subsidies.

            All subsides are wrong. And the one you mention was a business investment tax credit, not a personnel purchase tax credit.

            Dude, if you are gonna tax credits get your facts straight. Again Intel didn’t need tax money to survive, Tesla does…..

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Please elaborate on these tax subsidies, and how they differ from those enjoyed by other mfrs.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Is this underground sled BS? Sure. But Musk isn’t the first visionary/entrepreneur type to indulge in futuristic BS. Everyone from Thomas Edison to Jeff Bezos has done it.

    If you make your living selling cutting-edge technology, then it pays to dream up stuff like this, even if it’s pure vaporware.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Any idiot can see that this tunnel system would have far less capacity than an existing roadway, let alone the subway train (GASP! mass transit!) that you could put into the exact same tunnel. Capacity would dictate that it would be a scandalously expensive way for a few of the very richest of the rich to bypass normal city traffic, and accomplish nothing for anyone else.

    Let’s be generous and assume that his six-mile LA tunnel costs about as much as an equivalent subway tunnel to build, so in the neighborhood of $10 billion. For that $10 billion, he’s going to get capacity for maybe 500 cars an hour (and that’s if his tunnel access systems are many times faster than what’s pictured in the video). If each of those cars has the average of 1.2 people in it, we’re benefiting 600 people an hour. Meanwhile, a subway train in the same tunnel would carry that many people on EVERY SINGLE TRAIN, with as many as 30 trains hourly.


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