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Here’s the first look at how Elon Musk’s ‘boring’ car tunnels will work

Cars will be lowered into the tunnel from the roads on what Musk calls a car “skate.”

Chris Anderson interviews Elon Musk at TED2017 - The Future You, April 24-28, 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Chris Anderson interviews Elon Musk at TED2017 - The Future You, April 24-28, 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Photo: Bret Hartman / TED

At the TED conference today, Elon Musk gave a first look at the underground tunnels his new company, The Boring Company, is shooting to develop in the future.

Based on what we can gather from the brief video, cars will be lowered from regular roads into the tunnels by parking on what is essentially an elevator. The cars will remain on a platform — called a car “skate” — in the tunnel, which will take it through at up to 130 miles per hour.

The Boring Company was born out of Musk’s frustration with traffic in Los Angeles. To that end, the eccentric executive, whose business endeavors range from accelerating the electrification of vehicles in order to preserve the environment to colonizing Mars, decided he wanted to develop an underground network of tunnels so that cars could circumvent traffic.

To do that, Musk said The Boring Company will likely have to create a 3-D network of tunnels.

“There’s no real limit to how many levels of tunnels you can have,” he said. “The deepest mines are much deeper than the tallest buildings are tall.”


It’s not yet clear if Musk’s new endeavor is actually possible or how long it will take. Musk, who also splits his time leading SpaceX and Tesla, said he only spends about two to three percent of his time on The Boring Company.

“This is basically interns and people doing it part time,” he said. “We bought some second-hand machinery. It’s kind of puttering along but making good progress.”

That’s in spite of the current tunnel-boring machines operating fairly slowly, according to Musk. Machines today dig the tunnels about half the time and spend the other half reinforcing those tunnels, he said. He’d like to develop one that does both concurrently.

“We have a pet snail named Gary,” he said. “Gary is capable of currently going 14 times faster than a tunnel boring machine. We want to beat Gary. He’s not a patient little fellow, that will be victory. Victory will be beating the snail.”

Here’s the full video:

Watch Musk’s entire talk from Ted 2017, where he also describes his plans for an electric semi-truck and ambitions to one day bring people to Mars:

This article originally appeared on

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