DFJ’s Steve Jurvetson thinks Elon’s Boring Co. will win with short tunnels first

Noted Silicon Valley investor and SpaceX investor Steve Jurvetson is probably better positioned than most to know what Elon Musk is thinking with The Boring Company, his project to build a better tunnel boring concern, which he created essentially because he was fed up with sitting in traffic in L.A.

Though The Boring Co.’s most recent headlines have hailed Musk’s plans to potentially build a city-to-city underground hyperloop network, Jurvetson talked about the near-term potential of shorter tunnels, and tunnels designed specifically for electric vehicles.

“I personally love the idea even more than the hyperloop idea,” Jurvetson told TechCrunch’s Connie Loizos on stage at Disrupt SF 2017 in San Francisco. Why? Because the vision is that they could work with electric vehicles exclusively once those proliferate enough, which means you don’t need to manage exhaust, Jurvetson pointed out.

“The whole concept of tunnels changes,” he said, once you change that key ingredient, since tunnels can be much smaller, making them easier to dig and interconnect and overlay. That means less complexity, less potential to affect surface structure and easier construction, enabling things like short undercut routes that bypass busy freeways currently clogged with traffic – some of which just happens to be using the same route as others headed to the same concentrated focal point, like an airport, even if they’re going somewhere else entirely.

While hyperloop tunnels still make sense over longer distances, Jurvetson thinks those are still very expensive, complex projects that are a long way off. In the nearer term, EV undercut routes across shorter distance seem “a little simpler,” he said.

Once laid out, this makes plenty of obvious sense. But again, it raises the question of how Musk come up with this stuff. Jurvetson had a great answer.

“Think forward 500 years, what is the inevitable endpoint that no one will debate?” he says the prolific founder asks himself. He then figures out what it’ll take to get there, and what opportunities available along the way will make it happen.