There was no shortage of interesting tidbits and entertainment at a TED talk in Vancouver last Friday featuring Elon Musk. The entrepreneur spanned multiple subjects in the 40-minute discussion, covering The Boring Company, autonomous cars that can make a cross-country journey, solar-powered roof tiles becoming a standard, and his skepticism on flying vehicles.
The Boring Company was explained in detail, which is a plan of having a network of tunnels below heavy traffic for an easier commute. This tunneling process is very simple. Cars would be able to drive onto a platform, and that would lower down into one of the tunnels below. Drivers will then be able to continue their trek and the platform would rise up for the next vehicle.
Musk suggests that there wouldn’t be any limit to the amount of tunnels that are underneath the roads. While he was able to develop the idea in his mind while stuck in Los Angeles traffic, he believes that varying lengths can be achieved, such as those who would like to travel from Washington, D.C. straight to New York.
There were two concerns Musk covered: How big these tunnels would be, and underground detection. They would essentially all be one-lane, but there would be enough room for emergency vehicles to go down and aid any potential crashes. Also, these tunnels would be far enough below where they wouldn’t be detected.
While Uber is attempting to fix heavy traffic problems by creating flying cars, Musk believes that his tunneling process is a better solution and the former could be a bigger issue than most people think.
Another topic Musk delved into was the potential for solar-powered roofs being commonplace. The entrepreneur has ideas for very affordable glass roofs that will be cheaper to produce than the traditional style. There would be even more savings when it comes to paying for energy as some of it will be ran off the solar panels. He expects these roofs to be standard in roughly 40 to 50 years, suggesting that roofs are replaced every 20 to 25 years.
One of the most interesting talking points Musk made was the prediction of traveling across the country while sleeping with fully automated cars. Technology should be ready by the end of this year to make the feat a reality.
“We’re still on track for being able to go cross-country — from L.A. to New York — by the end of the year, fully autonomous,” Musk said [via ]. “Essentially, November or December of this year, we should be able to go all the way from a parking lot in California to a parking lot in New York, no controls touched at any point during the entire journey,” he added.
Two alcohol companies behind popular brands like Johnnie Walker, Guinness, and Jameson Irish Whiskey are eliminating plastic straws and stirrers entirely. They won't be used in their offices, at events, or in future advertisements.
A Dutch company is planning to launch the first emission-free barges in Europe this summer. These vessels will be the first autonomous and fully electric barges to operate in the coastal highways between the Netherlands and Belgium.
Based on the auctions for upcoming projects around the world, cost per kilowatt-hour will be competitive or lower than fossil fuels.
AES and Siemens are teaming up their technology platforms to create Fluence Energy, an independent energy storage startup that will battle Tesla in the industry.