Elon Musk Introduces His Pet Snail 'Gary' at an L.A. Event to Tout His Underground Traffic Tunnel
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"We want to beat Gary," Elon Musk declared last year. "Victory will be beating the snail."
The eccentric entrepreneur was making similarly playful statements last week at a kind of town hall meeting in Los Angeles, where he was accompanied by a real-life version of Spongebob SquarePants' house pet.
The May 24 event was a chance for Musk to win community support for his Boring Company plan to build an underground tunnel beneath L.A. to relieve that city's infamous traffic congestion. Here's how it would work: Cars or multi-passenger vehicles would be lowered deep into the ground via an elevator accessed at multiple entry and exit points across the city. The vehicles would then be fed into a network of tunnels, 12 feet across and who-knows-how-many feet deep (Musk described the depth factor as limitless), and then whisked across town at 150 m.p.h. Cost: $1. A trip from downtown L.A. to LAX, the city's airport, would take eight minutes, Musk said last week.
The reason for Musk's snail sidekick at the town hall event was to illustrate the famous entrepreneur's desire to bore these tunnels faster. "Currently, he's capable of going 14 times faster than a tunnel boring machine," Musk said of his mollusk in May 2017 at a TED talk. "We want to beat Gary. He's not a patient little fellow. That will be victory. Victory is beating the snail."
Last week's hourlong appearance, part of which was live-streamed, took place in the spacious sanctuary of the Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles, prompting a turnout of 750 Musk fans (some in wacky headgear, like that at a ComicCon event). The religious venue led a CNET reporter to write, "Holy crap, we're literally sitting at the altar of Musk." Less spiritually, the event took place there because the synagogue sits next to the Interstate 405 freeway beneath which The Boring Company is starting to dig.
Musk was late and blamed the 405 -- presumably to make his point. But his point also included a bid for community support, since two neighborhood groups are fighting the L.A. city council's approval for Musk to move forward with his tunnel plan without a lengthy environmental review.
"This is the only way that we can think of to address chronic traffic issues in major cities," said Musk, who was accompanied by Steve Davis, director of The Boring Company. Musk's remarks were warmly received by the crowd, which gave him a standing ovation at the end and yelled things like, "You're hired!"
Gary, who the tech site Gizmodo suspected might be the fourth incarnation of himself, slimed his way across his tank but had no other obvious reaction.