Elon Musk is hell bent on finding a way to dig tunnels cheaper and more quickly in order to avoid his least favorite thing: traffic.
The billionaire’s Boring Company on Tuesday announced a new competition, which appears similar to past Hyperloop contests, wherein teams will race to design and dig a miniature tunnel faster than a snail can slither — a feat much more difficult than it sounds.
Three winners will be crowned in the spring of 2021, the company said, for fastest to complete the tunnel, fastest to complete the tunnel with a driving surface that a remote-controlled car can race through, and for the most precisely located tunnel.
“The Boring Company’s goal is to build the tunnel infrastructure necessary to enable fast, safe, and comfortable transportation, including Loop and Hyperloop,” it said. “To feasibly build a large network of tunnels, one must first rapidly innovate to increase tunneling speed and reduce tunneling costs.”
It’s not clear what the winners will receive, beyond the glory of a first-place finish.
Musk’s grandiose ideas for the future of public transit have come under fire as short-sighted and misguided by experts who say there are more efficient ways to utilize existing road space to mitigate traffic. Public transit, which receives a tiny fraction of the US investment in highways, could also see its capacity drastically increased with relatively small improvements.
But sitting on a train, no matter how fast, would not align with Musk’s vision for individual, electric Tesla vehicles zipping through underground tunnels untouched by neighboring traffic and unburdened by sharing space with another human.
“It’s a pain in the ass,” Musk said of true public transit in 2017. “That’s why everyone doesn’t like it. And there’s like a bunch of random strangers, one of who might be a serial killer, OK, great. And so that’s why people like individualized transport, that goes where you want, when you want.”
The Boring Company to date has sent Teslas vehicle through its test tunnel in California during private demonstration, and is near completion of a project in Las Vegas to connect two ends of the city’s convention center together underground. Other plans, like connecting Chicago’s O’Hare airport with its downtown loop or the Los Angeles Dodgers’ stadium to surrounding neighborhoods, have yet to break ground.
Those interested in applying to the competition can fill out a form over on The Boring Company’s website.