No, really…what’s not to like about Elon Musk and all of his radical projects and ideas? We were all glued to the Internet to witness SpaceX not only launch a car into orbit, but also salvage 2 out of its 3 booster rockets safely.
That said, many companies are pushing the boundaries to not only innovate, but provide consumers with an alternative to everyday needs. Recently, technology has been able to provide consumers with a new layer of convenience. Whether its innovations to mobile devices, the ever-increasing popularity of voice-search, or the idea of self-driving cars, we are becoming more and more dependent on artificial intelligence. That said, when it comes to convenience, consumers want things quickly and with a friction-less experience.
20 years ago, the idea of self-driving cars seemed improbable. The only concepts we had of such technology could only been seen in flicks like Back to the Future. However, with the emergence of Uber and others alike, those ideas are quickly becoming reality. As we’ve discussed in previous lectures, shipping and freight will soon feel major disruptions to how we handle logistics. Moreover, when it comes to “people traffic”, Uber, Lyft and other ride sharing companies are making it easier for consumers to get around.
But while these companies continue to innovate and marginalize the need for drivers, the demand to see self-driving cars is increasing. That was until…well…Uber pulled the plug. Unfortunately, the company was involved in a fatal accident in which one of its autonomous vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona. According to the Washington Post, government officials and technology firms like Uber and Nvidia have temporarily put a stop to all testing of driverless technology on public roads.
So, how can we remedy these types of incidents?
Enter Elon Musk.
According to the International Data Corporation, smart city technology spending is expected to reach $135 billion by 2021. Just last year, Elon Musk and The Boring Company were given the green light to construct a system of tunnels that could potentially alleviate foot traffic from major cities, as well as take more vehicles off the road. The company’s two-mile test tunnel underneath SpaceX headquarters in California has opened the doors for similar projects to pop-up across the country. The initial concept behind these tunnels was to have people drive their cars onto platforms, to then be lowered into a system of tunnels at a high rate of speed in order to efficiently get people to their destinations. That idea has since changed.
As reported by The Verge, the company has shifted its focus from loading cars onto a platform, to now loading people into what essentially looks to be high-speed train cars.
Aside from its California projects, The Boring Company has been given permission to construct tunnels in Maryland, Washington D.C., New York and Philadelphia. Now, I’m no expert, but are these tunnels really a remedy for overcapacity and mass transit?Apparently so.
But Elon and his company are not the only players in this new industry. LA-based Hyperloop One is also in the race to start digging. In July of last year, Hyperloop launched a prototype pod that reached speeds close to 200mph in their 500-meter test tube in the Nevada desert. So could this be the new Uber and Lyft of tunnel transport?
Personally, the success of these two ventures could only expedite and increase efficient travel, as well as benefit people overall. Such projects would not only make city commutes more enjoyable, but think about all the newly discovered free space for recreational activities like cycling, jogging, and whatever other outdoor hobbies people enjoy. But are people ready for AI powered systems or smart cities? These types of projects take time due to their nature – poorly mapped cities, lots of earth to dig up, and because such large projects freak people out.
Would you feel comfortable trusting a nearly 200mph transit “box” whisk you away? Are these tunnels even viable for long-term use? These are just a series of questions that are left to be answered.
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