Elon Musk brings high-tech charm offensive to Los Angeles tunnel plan

Elon Musk brings high-tech charm offensive to Los Angeles tunnel plan

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk promised a cheering crowd on Thursday that his controversial dream of burrowing a high-speed community of “personalized mass transit” tunnels beneath Los Angeles may very well be achieved with out disturbance or noise on the floor.

Elon Musk arrives to communicate at Boring Company group assembly in Bel Air, Los Angeles, California, U.S. May 17, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Musk, the Silicon Valley high-tech tycoon who based the Tesla Inc. electrical automotive maker, additionally mentioned he would provide free journeys by means of the primary two analysis tunnels he completes to get public suggestions earlier than continuing with a bigger system.

“Like a weird little Disney ride in L.A.,” Musk, casually wearing denim, mentioned to laughter and applause.

It remained unsure whether or not building permits he has obtained so far, or continues to be looking for from numerous businesses, would enable public entry to his tunnels on an experimental foundation. [L1N1SJ00Z]

Known for aggressively taking over large-scale technical challenges with which he has had little earlier expertise, Musk ended his pitch on a humble notice, telling the viewers that realizing his imaginative and prescient “could only happen with public support.”

The efficiency marked a uncommon private look for Musk at such a public occasion, a city hall-style gathering attended by about 700 individuals on the Leo Baeck Temple, a synagogue within the metropolis’s prosperous Bel-Air district, the place Musk owns a residence.

Joining him on stage was Steve Davis, a high govt at Musk’s aptly named underground transit enterprise, the Boring Company.

Elon Musk (L) speaks at Boring Company group assembly in Bel Air, Los Angeles, California, U.S. May 17, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

ROCK STAR TREATMENT

Musk’s superstar standing preceded him, as some guests pushed and shoved their method into the crowded corridor earlier than the occasion started. Half-joking that he was late due to heavy visitors, Musk obtained a rousing welcome as he arrived, and a standing ovation on the finish of the hour-long session.

Whether staunch critics have been swayed remained to be seen.

Boring’s effort to win fast-track metropolis approval of a 2.7-mile-long tunnel beneath a busy stretch of Los Angeles’ West Side has drawn a courtroom problem from two neighborhood organizations.

It additionally comes as Musk wrestles with manufacturing issues for the rollout of his extremely anticipated Model three sedan at Tesla, with some traders involved his overlapping management roles at Boring and his rocket-building agency SpaceX has him unfold too skinny.

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Resistance to his tunneling mission marks a considerably new kind of problem for Musk. Opponents say the exemption Boring seeks from a prolonged environmental overview of the Los Angeles take a look at tunnel violates state regulation forbidding such waivers for large-scope initiatives on a piecemeal foundation.

But Musk denied making an attempt to take any shortcuts, saying even with the waiver, Boring faces “600 pages of permits that would be required for this tunnel.” He added he has each intent of submitting to a full environmental research for the tunnel community as a complete when the time comes.

A barely shorter take a look at tunnel is already largely completed beneath the tiny neighboring municipality of Hawthorne, the place Boring and SpaceX are each headquartered.

Musk and Davis vowed the general public has nothing to concern from their excavation plans, which they are saying will differ from typical tunnels by operating deeper underground, effectively beneath utility strains.

“You won’t hear us, you won’t feel us, you won’t even know we exist,” Davis mentioned.

Musk mentioned the primary two tunnel segments would function proof-of-concept websites to reveal concepts for a traffic-easing community of subterranean tubes whisking passenger-carrying “pods” and particular person automobiles from place to place at excessive speeds.

Musk launched his foray into public transit after complaining about visitors on Twitter in late 2016, vowing to “build a boring machine and just start digging.”

In one obvious acquire introduced earlier, the Los Angeles transit authority voiced help for Musk’s tunnel ambitions, tweeting that the company and Boring had a “great meeting” on Thursday and would “be partners moving forward.”

Reporting and writing by Steve Gorman; Additional reporting by Dana Feldman; Editing by Peter Cooney and Peter Graff

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