If Elon Musk Follows Through on These Plans, Transportation Will Never Be the Same

Elon Musk roundly crushed any dreams of flying cars at TED Conference on Friday by being annoyingly sensical about the concept of them. "If there were a whole bunch of flying cars going all over the place, that's not an anxiety-reducing situation," he said. "You're thinking, 'Did they service their hub cap, or is it going to come off and guillotine me?' Nap-friendly cars, however, in which self-driving technology allows passengers to close their eyes without worrying, are only two years off, according to Musk. "The real trick of it is not to say 'How do you make it work 99.9 per cent of the time?' If a car crashes one in a thousand times, you're probably still not going to be comfortable falling asleep," he said. Most would want better odds than that.

Musk is currently working on multiple transportation-related projects. At the conference, he released an image of Tesla's new self-driving truck—which he claimed handles like a sports car—and the mythical Hyperloop, a vacuum tube meant for transportation between cities at breakneck speeds. Musk also described the ease with which drivers will be able to avoid traffic jams by using the underground system of tunnels that his new company Boring is currently (slowly) digging under Los Angeles. Drivers in Los Angeles spent an average of 104 hours stuck in rush hour traffic in 2016—the worst congestion in the world.

In other future-travel news, Musk's SpaceX landed another rocket this morning. The rocket ferried a spy satellite into orbit before successfully returning to Earth. At the beginning of April, SpaceX launched a pre-flown booster into space for the first time ever, indicating that reusing materials will be a solution to the insane costs of making rockets ready for space travel. And in September, SpaceX revealed the space ship that will carry passengers to Mars by 2025. At TED, Musk said, "If the future doesn't include being out there in the stars, being a multi-planet species, that is incredibly depressing."

So, with trying to juggle every form of futuristic transportation—underground, land, and space—at once, Musk addressed the huge to-do list he assigned himself: "I'm not trying to be anyone's savior," he said. "I am just trying to think about the future and not be sad."