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Autonomous Vehicles

Published on May 13th, 2017 | by Steve Hanley


Elon Musk’s Boring Machine & Electric Sled

May 13th, 2017 by  

Originally published on Gas2.

Donald Trump woke up Friday morning and unleashed a tirade of Twitterized venom on James Comey. Elon Musk woke up Friday morning and shared a ton of information on Twitter and Instagram about his new tunnel-boring machine — codenamed Godot — and a video showing what it will be like to race through one of those tunnels at speeds up to 125 miles per hour aboard an electric sled. Which Twitter storm is likely to be more important to the future of mankind? You decide.

Let’s begin at the beginning, with a photo on Instagram showing the entrance to the test tunnel located in the parking lot at SpaceX headquarters. That was quickly followed by a short video of Elon’s first boring machine being brought up to speed for the first time. It will be 200 feet long when complete, he says. (Hover over the black square to find the play button.)

Cutterhead in operation at standard industry speed. Planning to jack this up by a factor of ten or more.

A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on

“Full length of first tunnel will run from LAX to Culver City, Santa Monica, Westwood, and Sherman Oaks,” Musk wrote. “Future tunnels will cover all of greater LA.” It is unclear whether Musk has actually received permission to dig his first tunnel. A representative of the Los Angeles Department of Public Works told Wired in January that Musk would need to discuss the matter further with the City Council before moving forward with the project.

Then Musk really pulled out all the stops. Last month, he posted a video on YouTube revealing his vision for a network of tunnels under major cities. Private cars would be loaded onto an electric sled, sort of like a single-car ferry, then driven through the tunnels at speeds up to 125 miles per hour. The video also showed cars being placed into the tunnel complex using an elevator. Musk claims the journey from SpaceX headquarters to LAX — a trip that can take upwards of 45 minutes in rush hour traffic — could be completed in 5 minutes.

Today, he posted another video showing what the view out the front windshield will be like while rocketing along on one of those electric sleds. This one is truly fascinating and more than a little scary for those who are not comfortable going really fast in confined spaces. “Warning, this may cause motion sickness or seizures,” Musk cautioned.

Some have questioned whether Musk’s tunnels will accessible to persons of every economic class the way highways are today. That’s a legitimate concern and one that needs to be addressed as America fractures into two distinct demographics — one with plenty of money and the other, much larger group, surviving from paycheck to paycheck. Next time I am chatting with Elon, I will ask him for his thoughts on the matter.

Here’s the full sequence of tweets from Elon about the new boring machine and electric sled:



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About the Author

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his homes in Florida and Connecticut or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.

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