Back at the blunt end of October, Elon Musk released via his Twit account a picture, claiming to be of his new and exciting mass transit system proof-of-concept build. His vision here was for cars to be fixed onto high speed sleds, that would then use his purpose built tunnel network to zip across Los Angeles in a fraction of the time fighting through traffic would normally take.
So far so visionary.
Now Musk, depending on who one would chat with, is either a leading visionary who is going to take the world to a greater place, or living proof that snake oil still has a market and that you can get a lot of start up performed on other people’s money.
Still, for the purpose of this discussion let us avoid taking sides and instead look deeper at the press release.
Picture of The Boring Company LA tunnel taken yesterday pic.twitter.com/TfdVKyXFsJ
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 28, 2017
Also, let us ignore the fact that when we say ‘press release’ we really mean Twit Post.
We digress; back to the tunnel.
The photo Musk has provided shows what seems to be a concrete-lined tunnel, maybe three metres in diameter, curving away in the middle distance to the left. Hanging from the roof seems to be a flexible ducting, probably for ventilation. On one side of the tunnel, what may be a power cable is looped from regularly spaced wall hooks while on the other side three pipes – possible water – are fixed to similarly regular mounting brackets. On the floor is a narrow gauge rail line which is sufficiently kinked enough to strongly suggest it is there for construction only.
From the amount of dirt also filling the vision as well as the casual and temporary looking loops on the cable run, it is probably safe to assume that this is still a construction site, which is probably the only other fact we can be confident about apart from Yeap, It’s A Tunnel.
So what does the World’s Leading Visionary have to say about this? He expands on his Twit post by telling his disciples the tunnel is currently 500 feet long and should be 2 miles long in three or four months. It is also worth noting that nowhere in this correspondence does Musk do anything to suggest this is anything other than his magical high speed transit system. Hold onto that thought, we will get back to that later.
Now as well as being a cynical hypocrite writing under a tragically non-humorous pen-name, your author occasional spends time working as an Engineering Professional, and armed with that background came up with a few conclusions. Namely, this tunnel was clearly not finished, it was clearly not currently big enough to fit a motor vehicle, and for the stated speed of 150mph the sharpness of the bends was very questionable.
So with cynical curiosity openly piqued, your author decided to do a bit more digging.
Musk’s digging has been done in house by The Boring Company, a company founded by Musk under a year ago for the purpose of digging these aforementioned tunnels. It has a website which is oddly lacking on any media releases beyond a small collection of photos.
Further exploration within the online media all seemed to be linked solely with the Musk Twit post. Your author sampled a small amount of these reports and found that the general tone was one of glowing praise and that all agreed this tunnel was part of the magical high speed transit system. No one it seems wants to question the World’s Greatest Visionary.
However, by playing around slightly with the search engines, a few interesting background pieces of information can be discovered from earlier in the year, most of which are amusingly to be found on the very same websites that have been gleefully reporting on Musk’s October Twit post.
In an article from June, science, gadget and technology website Engadget posted an article about the current state of Musk’s underground networks. The article mentions how digging had been carried out on the site of SpaceX, the Musk-founded company involved in private space technology, and how Musk had previously asked for building permission to construct a 500-foot-long horizontal pedestrian tunnel to aid his workers in travelling from the parking lot to their offices while avoiding the need to cross the road.
Now, for those paying attention earlier, just how long did Musk claim his magical high speed transit tunnel currently was?
The interest levels are further raised when we consider some other points no-one at The Boring Company seems willing to contradict, namely that they only currently own one horizontal boring machine, this machine is on the SpaceX site and they have been carrying out excavation at this same location. The conclusion raised here is that unless The Boring Company has some covert ghost operation being carried out that they are not willing to publicly reveal, the October Twit post by the World’s Greatest Visionary is in fact nothing more than the previously mentioned pedestrian access he has been in the process of building for his own workers.
The extension to this argument is that either Musk honestly has no idea what his own companies are actually up to and is gullible enough to believe anything his unscrupulous worker drones tell him, or Musk knows exactly what is going on and is attempting to deceive the public on the true state of his projects for, well, ‘reasons’.
These speculations would probably remain slightly bemusing except for the mildly important fact that Musk has also been promising The Blackout State the saving wonder of the World’s Biggest Battery, with grand promises to the South Australian government that it could be built within a hundred days or it would be free.
If Musk is unwilling or unable to provide accurate information concerning his tunnel-building projects to the world, then just how far can the Weatherill Government and the 2018-election-facing South Australian public actually trust him?
We’re your XYZ, and for the moment at least, we’re staying above ground.