Elon Musk reveals vision for underground road system

Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced his intentions to build a tunnel network under Los Angeles in December 2016 and promptly set up ‘The Boring Company’. Speaking at the Ted (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference in Vancouver, Musk unveiled his vision for how this company is more than just a play on words and released a video showing how it might actually work.

In a wide-ranging conversation with Ted curator Chris Anderson, Musk said that he was inspired to consider a tunnel system to alleviate congestion because he found being stuck in traffic “soul-destroying”.

In his system, cars would stop on a trolley-like device which would descend into an underground network of tunnels, that look similar to the Tube network in London, and shuttle the cars to their destinations at speeds of around 124mph.

He said that his vision was to have “no limits” to the number of tunnels, as well as to find ways to cut the cost of boring and to speed up how quickly such tunnels could be created.

“We have a pet snail called Gary, and Gary is capable of moving 14 times faster than a tunnel boring machine - so the ambition is to beat Gary, victory is beating the snail,” Musk said.

Musk also said he planned fully autonomous journeys across the US by the end of the year, how he wanted solar-powered roof tiles to be standard on “every home” within 50 years, and he explained why he is committed to sending a rocket to Mars.

His semi-autonomous Tesla car fleet has been under scrutiny since a fatal crash in May 2016, but Mr Musk showed no signs of slowing his ambitions for the firm.

“From a parking lot in California, cross-country to New York or from Seattle to Florida, these cars should be able to go anywhere on the highway system,” he said.

Ted curator Chris Anderson asked Mr Musk why he had so many diverse interests - on Earth and in Space.

“The value of Tesla is to accelerate the inevitable use of sustainable energy and if it accelerates that by a decade, then that would be a fundamental aspiration,” Musk explained.

But, he added, the advancement of space technology was not inevitable and would only happen if someone worked hard to make it a reality.

“It is important to have an inspiring future and if it doesn't include being out there among the stars, that is incredibly depressing.”