While much of Elon Musk's focus remains either on land or up in space, he also maintains an interest in what goes on underground. Earlier this week, the innovator and inventor revealed via Instagram that his Boring Company was nearing completion on the first of four major projects. The company, which launched in 2016, has generally flown under the radar in comparison with other projects of Musk's, including Tesla (TSLA) and SpaceX. If this "proof-of-process" tunnel manages to be successful, however, it could change the way that individuals in some of the largest cities conceive of transportation.
Free Demo Rides Upcoming
In his post announcing the project's status, Musk explained that the 2.7-mile tunnel underneath Los Angeles is "almost done" and that he and his company will open the tunnel for free demo rides "in a few months," according to CNBC. The caption for a video racing through the tunnel said, "super huge thanks to everyone that helped with this project," adding that "once fully operational (demo system rides will be free), the system will always give priority to pods for pedestrians and cyclists for less than the cost of a bus ticket."
The goal of this and other Boring Company projects is to improve transportation congestion and travel times in some of the busiest and most traffic-laden areas around the country. Los Angeles is notorious for its traffic and is slated to be the first of several projects. Musk has revealed that his company is also working on similar projects along the east coast of the U.S. and in Chicago.
New Alternative to Buses and Subways
Musk and his team imagine the tunnels, when complete, to be a paid alternative to subways, buses, and other forms of transportation. They are not expected to allow for cars or other similarly sized vehicles. However, a photo that Musk revealed last summer showed a Tesla Model S inside of the Hawthorne tunnel, prompting speculation that future tunnels might be designed in such a way as to accommodate electric vehicles.
The test tunnel is being built underneath the headquarters of Musk's SpaceX project, located in Hawthorne, California. When complete, Musk hopes to utilize autonomous electric skates to transport people underground; a report by the Verge suggests that each skate will be able to transport as many as 16 passengers at speeds of up to 124 miles per hour, thanks to the magnetized rail system.
A similar project concept that Musk has proposed in the past would include a hyperloop between San Francisco and Los Angeles, which Musk intends to use to transport pressurized pods at speeds faster than an airplane.