Elon Musk is actually, seriously, for real going forward with his “boring company” idea. Over the weekend, the SpaceX CEO revealed that the company had already started digging what’s going to be a pedestrian tunnel at the rocket company’s headquarters. However, Musk also says that they’re still in the early stages of experimenting.
Or, as he phrased it, “We have no idea what we’re doing.”
That’s not necessarily a bad thing — at least not at this point. Musk was speaking outside of SpaceX’s Los Angeles facility on Saturday following a Hyperloop Pod Competition when he shared some details about the “test trench” his workers had dug. Right now, the trench is 30 feet wide, 50 feet long, and 15 feet deep.
As recently as a few days ago, Musk was saying that he planned to start digging “in a month or so.” Presumably, he wasn’t referring to this test.
“Just in front of SpaceX headquarters there’s a giant hole,” Musk said, chuckling just a bit. “I find holes in the ground exciting. I was just discussing this with my girlfriend, she didn’t think it was that exciting,” he continued.
Though the eventual plan is to build a pedestrian tunnel to allow SpaceX workers to safely get about the campus, right now Musk’s team is just working on figuring out how to make the boring process a little more exciting by speeding it up — a lot. Musk said he thought the company could “improve tunneling speed by somewhere between 500 and 1,000 percent.”
“I’m actually quite optimistic that tunneling can be improved by at least fivefold, maybe tenfold,” he said.
Musk’s ultimate vision for the boring company is three-dimensional transportation. He compared his vision for Y-axis transport to the rise of skyscrapers much earlier in history.
“You have tall buildings, they’re all 3D, and then everyone wants to go into the building and leave the building at the same time,” he said. “On a 2D road network, that obviously doesn’t work, so you have to go 3D either up or down. And I think probably down.”
Musk told Wired that he envisions as many as 30 layers of tunnels ferrying people and vehicles deep underground. The scope of Musk’s dream, combined with the unprecedented speed that he wants to dig these tunnels with, seems to give the boring company some sort of distinction from a subway. Which is good, because the New York City subway alone is more than 100 years old. Tunneling isn’t a new idea, clearly, but if Musk can dig a little deeper or faster, it might be worth a shot.
Photos via Getty Images / Bill Pugliano