Elon Musk digging tunnels to save the world’s congestion problem?

I don’t know if you follow Elon Musk (Tesla, SpaceX…) on Twitter. I do. A few weeks ago he twitted on his way to work -on a Tesla, I suppose- that he was exasperated with Los Angeles traffic, and wondered about boring a tunnel. A moment later he twitted again that he would do it.

It seems now that he’s taken seriously the idea, and this past weekend workers started excavating a test trench at SpaceX headquarters.

I’m somewhat confused about this: being Elon Musk the visionaire and entrepeneur he is in so many different areas (PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX, Hyperloop…) this shouldn’t surprise anyone. But this is civil engineering (tunnel boring) he’s talking now, and he even claims he wants to improve tunneling speed by 500 or even 1,000 percent! Although he did say: «We have no idea what we’re doing – I want to be clear about that» (!!!!???!!!)

What do you think? Is Elon Musk out of his depth this time? Will this new idea fail? Or if it works (I don’t know what innovative technology he wants to try out), will it work on all types of soils/rocks? Something deep in my cartesian/engineer mind tells me that it’s very difficult for someone with no previous (civil) engineering knowledge to suddenly come up with an idea that thousands of engineers and contractors all over the world are struggling with everyday. Or is it?

This is Elon Musk we’re talking about. They said the same things about him and the electric car or about launching rockets and landing them back again… And he proved them wrong. And what about the Hyperloop…? We’ll soon see.

Maybe he will fail in this new tunnel adventure, maybe he wont. But in any case this is exactly what the civil engineering world requires: out-of-the-(cartesian)-box thinking and people like Elon Musk with enough ingenuity -and money- to propose and experiment on new, world-changing ideas.

Let’s keep a close eye on Elon Musk’s latest idea, because it would indeed change our profession and the world!

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