When Elon Musk gives a TED talk, you ought to hear him out.
Last month, in a one-on-one conversation with Chris Anderson, Musk opened up about his gigantic plans for humanity’s future in the 4 most pressing topics of innovation. He outlines the key underlying concepts behind realizing his outlandish visions of alleviating vehicular congestion, his part-time role in Hyperloop, his Mars Colonization plans, and Tesla’s introduction of a new line of electric vehicles.
If you haven’t seen it already, do so right away
The Boring Company
With an ever-growing global population, vehicular congestion is inevitable. However, Musk believes that in order to combat congestion in the future, we certainly need to go underground.
“Traffic is one of the most soul-destroying things in one’s life because it takes so much of your life.”
To mitigate this problem, Musk envisions a future of auto-traffic in a 3D network of stacked underground tunnels where the speed of transport may rise to as high as 200kmph. Watch this video to catch a glimpse of how this might all work.
Musk’s company known as The Boring Company is working on realizing this futuristic dream of seamless traffic. They’ve singled out Los Angeles as the destination for their first test. If successful, the future of underground travel will allow getting from Westwood to LA in under six minutes.
However exciting it sounds, there are numerous challenges to bringing this solution into reality. The most important ones being feasibility and cost of creating such a network. However, in his talk, Musk believes that with lighter regulations, design improvements and better energy efficiency, his company will be able to achieve a ten-fold improvement in cost per mile tunneling. Achieving this amount of cost effectiveness can actually render this solution as feasible in creating the future transportation infrastructure.
Achieving autonomy in travel will end up with even more vehicles on the road as compared to now. While tunneling is essential to accommodate these rising numbers, Tesla is now planning to go completely driver-less in order to create an autonomous fleet of driver-less cars which can further the dream of a shared economy. In the future, your car will drive you effortlessly to your destination, and will thereafter be available to others for use.
Here’s how it would possibly look like
Musk also unveiled his plans for a heavy duty Tesla truck which aims to alleviate the use of fossil fuels based truck fleet in the US, while carrying the power of higher magnitude than fuel based trucks. This comes in response to combating the large reliance of US on fuel based trucks and switch to cleaner sources in the wake of global climate change.
In the midst of all this, let’s not forgo Musk’s outrageously ambitious plan of making humanity a space-faring species; starting with colonizing Mars.
In Sept 2016, Musk announced his plans to colonize Mars. Following which SpaceX released this video to provide a brief illustration of how it would all happen.
Also Read: How We Will Colonize Mars
The Falcon 9 rocket which is envisioned to take the first humans to Mars carries four times the thrust of the biggest rocket humanity ever created before: Saturn V! That’s equivalent to the thrust of 120 Boeing 747s designed to escape the Earth’s gravity, loaded with people, cargo, everything into the orbit.
To grasp the size scale of the vehicle we are talking about, take a look at an artist’s rendition of the Mars carrier vehicle.
Bet you didn’t notice the tiny man standing to the left of the vehicle!
Every element of the SpaceX Mars carrier vehicle involves next generation rocket technology. While the key transformative element in Musk’s Mars colonization plan is Reusability, SpaceX has demonstrated this by landing its Falcon 9 rocket booster in sea and relaunching again.
Becoming an interplanetary species idea is infact intriguing , but also poses a moral quandary. Why move to Mars when one can pool all the resources and create a better Earth?
To which Musk’s answer is apt
“I look at the future from the standpoint of probabilities. It’s like a branching stream of probabilities, and there are actions that we can take that affect those probabilities or that accelerate one thing or slow down another thing. Sustainable energy will happen no matter what. If there was no Tesla, if Tesla never existed, it would have to happen out of necessity. It’s tautological. If you don’t have sustainable energy, it means you have unsustainable energy. Eventually you will run out, and the laws of economics will drive civilization towards sustainable energy, inevitably. The fundamental value of a company like Tesla is the degree to which it accelerates the advent of sustainable energy, faster than it would otherwise occur.
Then there’s becoming a multiplanet species and space-faring civilization. This is not inevitable. It’s very important to appreciate this is not inevitable. The sustainable energy future I think is largely inevitable, but being a space-faring civilization is definitely not inevitable. If you look at the progress in space, in 1969 you were able to send somebody to the moon. 1969. Then we had the Space Shuttle. The Space Shuttle could only take people to low Earth orbit. Then the Space Shuttle retired, and the United States could take no one to orbit. So that’s the trend. The trend is like down to nothing. People are mistaken when they think that technology just automatically improves. It does not automatically improve. It only improves if a lot of people work very hard to make it better, and actually it will, I think, by itself degrade, actually. You look at great civilizations like ancient Egypt, and they were able to make the pyramids, and they forgot how to do that. And then the Romans, they built these incredible aqueducts. They forgot how to do it.”
Elon Musk and humanity’s future
This is an epoch of technological and scientific transformation for humanity. Musk, through his TED talk provides a glimpse of the exciting technological progress the future holds. Simultaneously, innovation at his companies serves as a benchmark for other global organisations to reach up-to and innovate beyond.
As Elon Musk says, “It is important to have a future that is inspiring and appealing. If the future does not include being out there among the stars and being a multiplanet species, I find that it’s incredibly depressing if that’s not the future that we’re going to have.”