Elon Musk holds a place in the hearts of Americans not dissimilar to President Trump. Either you admire and support him, or you don’t. For those with the soul of Buck Rogers and a childlike sense of both trust and wonder, Musk is a hero. For those with a strong sense of disbelief, his almost monthly proclamations border on the ridiculous. Either way, this self-made billionaire exploits and ideas have attracted global interest and influenced the drafting of countless editorials. Like. This. One. There isn’t much about the man that has not appeared online and in print. Again, a master of his own PR, how much of his bio is actual fact is unknown. Two main personal facts appear to be true: That Elon Musk hails from South Africa, and that he has six sons, who make frequent appearances with their apparently doting dad. Of course there are the businesses: Tesla Automotive, SpaceX, the famous mission to Mars, and today, his Boring Company’s (play on words intentional, come on people, this is Elon Musk!) Tunnel Under Los Angeles.
What’s that you say? Unless you have awoken from a coma, or have missed today’s news, today Musk unveiled and demonstrated the efficiency of his latest venture: underground transportation technology. Back in 2016 Musk boasted that he planned to start digging tunnels to provide relief from LA’s fabled freeway congestion. Now, hearing of this, most native New Yorkers will scoff. After all, we have had tunnels under Manhattan and a subway system since the late 19th century. Back then, tunnelling was a relatively easy technology to implement as Gotham sits on bedrock. Most every other urban oases do not and, up to now, their citizens could only look eastward towards NYC with envy.
Musk’s Boring Co. is Anything But
In recent years international tragedies have provided an opportunity for Musk to offer aid. As previously mentioned, Elon Musk is the father of six boys. That may have been the reason for his generous offer via Twitter to provide assistance for the 12 boys and their leader trapped in a cave in Thailand this past summer. As numerous rescue attempts were made over a two week period, Musk directed Boring and SpaceX staffers at the site to fashion a kid-sized submarine from a liquid oxygen transfer tube. Later Musk joined his team, but even his presence was not enough to convince the Thai government to abandon standard rescue procedures. However, Musk was allowed to leave the capsule (which had been tested and proven successful) in Thailand for future rescue attempts.
Using Technology to Further Humanitarian Efforts
Also, when disaster struck Puerto Rico a second time, plunging the entire island into darkness, it was Musk who sent Tesla batteries to the battered tropical paradise where they will remain in use until power is fully restored. Granted this is grandstanding to a degree, but it also demonstrates a major humanitarian effort. At a time when little aid or even kind words were coming from the Oval office, the Governor of New York was sending aid,and utility repair crews into the region, and many grassroots and relief organizations were doing whatever they could. By sending needed battery power as part of the rescue and recovery effort a voice who could make a positive contribution to help people in the stricken area to recover was heard: Elon Musk’s.
So we’re established that Musk is both a humanitarian and a trailblazer (there’s enough ink about SpaceX’s mission to Mars so we will not detail that here. Google it.) What does building a tunnel under LA do for his street cred? Is he serious about building a tunnel under LA as a model for other cities across the U.S.? Apparently so. Musk’s 1.14-mile long prototype to relieve traffic congestion is considerably more than just a reinforced hole in the ground. Reporters who braved the inaugural tunnel ride (which did not include Mr. Musk as a passenger), reported a smooth ride not unlike that at an amusement park. Which is fitting because Musk himself refers to the project as “a weird little Disney ride in the middle of LA”. For this weird little ride, Boring company built specialized tunneling equipment but to date, has been prevented by citizen groups from building another tunnel in his “LA network” by a group of citizens who took Musk to court and won.
Washington to NYC in 29 Minutes?!
That’s okay, because what LA is skittish about, drew raves in Chicago and Baltimore (which is looking to implement another commuter route to Washington D.C.) As we go to print, Musk is said to be drafting proposals for those cities, even as he states that his urban tunnels are ‘in the prototype stage’. Nor has he given up on LA just because its well-heeled citizens cannot get behind him. Currently Boring Co. is planning another LA tunnel, this time to connect Los Feliz, East Hollywood and other lower socio-economic regions with Dodger Stadium.
Across the nation, bloggers to seasoned journalists are asking if Musk is serious. After all, he built a castle in LA at the tunnel exit. At the grand opening party, a full-time staffer was hired to be its ‘Watchtower Guard’ and to hurl epithets with a French accent (as in the Monty Python movies). Yet his engineers and technicians are first rate and his ingenious approach to conveying traffic through his tunnel evolved from placing vehicles on an electric skate as propulsion, to self-powered vehicle transit. For the Baltimore-Washington project Musk is currently proposing to whisk passengers between these cites, and even to New York in his Hyperloops, a high-speed capsule inside a vacuum tube. Sound familiar? It should. That was the technology that Musk sent to Thailand to rescue the trapped scouts.
By this time, the light should be beginning to dawn. Everything Musk conceives is meant to dovetail some project at varying stages of its development. And utilizing these inventions as globally and as creatively as possible Musk furthers his branding, and his personal and corporate credibility. With Musk, a man of apparently great heart, it also appears that he believes that one hand washes the other.