Elon Musk recently invested $100 million into his tunneling venture, The Boring Company. The startup’s drilling technology could have profound effects on transportation, renewable energy, and mining.
Cover Photo: Canadian Subway Station | Tricia A. Mitchell
Digging holes in the ground is shaping up to be big business.
At least, Elon Musk seems to think so. The billionaire founder of SpaceX and Tesla just poured $100 million into his aptly-named, ground-breaking enterprise called “The Boring Company.”
However, this venture strikes me as anything but boring. The world will need to spend massive amounts of money on infrastructure in the decades ahead — a good chunk of it underground.
Have a look at this Boring Company video showing its vision for tomorrow’s urban mass transit:
The idea is to have thousands of small access points to a city’s underground transit system. This would make the system incredibly flexible and would minimize the need for large subway stations.
Another idea that Elon Musk has proposed is the Hyperloop. This vacuum-tube transportation technology would whisk people from city to city at speeds faster than an airplane.
However, in order to build the tunnels required to lay Hyperloop tubes over the Earth’s surface, the cost of tunnel boring will need to drop considerably. Undoubtedly, Musk’s investments in The Boring Company will help to drive prices down.
Other Boring Technology Uses
Beyond sparking a transportation revolution, cheaper boring costs could have other benefits.
Google’s parent company recently launched Dandelion, a consumer-level geothermal heating and cooling system that requires drilling in your backyard.
While this is a small application of drilling technology, the awareness of geothermal energy as a consistent, terrestrial, renewable energy system is growing. As a result, we can expect to see larger, deeper bore holes drilled into the earth to tap into the massive amounts of heat just below our feet.
Mining raw materials without destroying the earth’s surface is also a need that will grow in the decades ahead. The use of precision boring technology will be essential to access the minerals in a sustainable way.
The Exciting Company
So far, Elon Musk has offered nothing less than excitement for his Boring Company. The company recently sold 20,000 flamethrowers to raise money and to inject a little heat into your life.
For Los Angeles commuters bored-to-tears by grueling traffic, The Boring Company is offering hope through a proposed plan to tunnel underneath the city to relieve traffic congestion. However, it needs to clear several bureaucratic hurdles before it can break ground on the project.
Whether they are tunnels underneath L.A., flame-throwing party favors, geothermal energy solutions, or subsonic hyperloop transport systems, The Boring Company will undoubtedly continue to defy its namesake for years to come.