Whether it's slick marketing or the way we'll all be traveling in the
future, the idea for Elon Musk's new, 125-mile-per-hour electric sled
appeared to take hold last year when Musk lost patience with car
"Traffic is driving me nuts," he tweeted in December, 2016. "Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging..."
that, the so-called Boring Company was born, another addition to Musk's
ever-growing portfolio of technology ventures. Best known for his
innovations at Tesla and, Musk's ventures span not just electric autos and space exploration, but sustainable and , neurotechnology, artificial intelligence and more.
a slick video last month, the Boring Company illustrated its ultimate
vision: a network of tunnels that would whisk cars underground across
great distances at high speeds. In the video, the company showed cars
being lowered from ground level parking spots to a sophisticated tunnel
network below, and then hurtling towards their destination unimpeded by
On Friday, Musk went one step further, showing off a test run of an
electric sled transporting a single car at 125 miles per hour. Musk said
the Boring Company's new sled technology would automatically switch
between tunnels, dramatically reducing lag time in traveling long
He warned viewers that the fast-moving video might induce motion sickness or seizures in some.
Technology like this would enable travel from Westwood, California to LAX in just five minutes, Musk said.
Boring Company's first test tunnel is under construction. Musk
envisions that it will eventually stretch from LAX to Culver City, Santa
Monica, Westwood and Sherman Oaks. He added that the company's
longer-term plans include a tunnel network to cover the entire greater
Los Angeles area.
In constructing the tunnels, Musk's company will face one obvious barrier: California's predisposition for earthquakes.
That risk aside, could tunnels and high-speed sleds solve the headache and environmental burden of traffic?
planners are divided, with some pointing out that adding infrastructure
for additional cars could simply lead to higher demand and new types of
congestion problems — in short, Musk's tunnel vision might be
innovating in the wrong direction, creating more support for individual
driving rather than strengthening alternative modes of transportation,
like public transit and high speed rail.
"It's been shown many
times that when you increase capacity over time you reach capacity and
it doesn't solve your problem, unless you address the real problem of
having too many car trips," Kaan Özbay, a transportation expert at New
York University's Center for Urban Science and Progress, told Salon.