At the outset of the Boring Company’s plans to build a network of underground tunnels in Las Vegas, Elon Musk claimed that the Boring Company would build one mile of tunnel per week. At that rate, the proposed 68-mile network would have taken little more than one year to build out entirely. But seven years on, the Boring Company has completed only 2.4 miles of tunnels in Las Vegas, as Fortune reports.
Musk’s plans for an extensive tunnel network underneath America’s Playground is way behind, having failed to meet its operational schedule by years. As if that weren’t bad enough, the promise of a sprawling underground network full of fast, autonomous EVs has also gone by the wayside. Musk sold his company’s vision as a high-tech alternative to public transportation that could combine its efficiency and availability with the privacy and convenience of your own car.
Musk claimed that the tunnels would be able to transport people between major hubs, such as the Harry Reid Airport and the Vegas strip, in just seven minutes. All of this with passengers never having to touch a steering wheel, as the Tesla EVs would drive themselves. The sales pitch worked, and the Boring Company’s valuation reached $5.6 billion by 2022[.]
A former Tesla employee has told the BBC he believes the technology powering the firm's self-driving vehicles is not safe enough to be used on public roads.
Lukasz Krupski leaked data, including customer complaints about Tesla's braking and self-driving software, to German newspaper Handelsblatt in May.
He said attempts to highlight his concerns internally had been ignored.
Tesla did not respond to requests for comment.
Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, has championed its self-driving technology.
"Tesla has by far the best real-world AI," Mr Musk said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, on Saturday.
But, in his first UK interview, Mr Krupski told the BBC's technology editor, Zoe Kleinman, he was concerned about how AI was being used - to power Tesla's autopilot service.
Its autopilot feature, for example, includes assisted steering and parking - but, despite its name, it does still require someone in the driver's seat with their hands on the wheel.
"I don't think the hardware is ready and the software is ready," he said.
"It affects all of us because we are essentially experiments in public roads. So even if you don't have a Tesla, your children still walk in the footpath."
Mr Krupski said he had found evidence in company data which suggested that requirements relating to the safe operation of vehicles that had a certain level of autonomous or assistive-driving technology had not been followed.
He added that even Tesla employees had spoken to him about vehicles randomly braking in response to non-existent obstacles - known as "phantom braking". This also came up in the data he obtained around customer complaints.
According to Tesla's own data, at the end of 2022 US customers using Autopilot averaged one crash where the airbag deployed roughly every 5 million miles travelled.
It claims that Tesla drivers not using it averaged once every 1.5 million miles or so.
The US driver overall average was once every 600,000 miles. The BBC cannot independently verify Tesla's figures.
Mr Krupski said he had felt compelled to share what he had found with data protection authorities.
The US Department of Justice have been investigating Tesla over its claims relating to its assisted driving features since January.
Tesla has also faced similar probes and questions from agencies including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about its autopilot system.
German newspaper Handelsblatt published the "Tesla Files" after Mr Krupski shared 100GB of internal data he discovered.
The data protection authority in the Netherlands, where Tesla's European headquarters are based, confirmed to the BBC it had been notified of the data breach and was looking into the claim.
Mr Krupski said the last six months and experience of being a whistleblower had been "terrifying".
"I barely sleep at night sometimes," he told the BBC.
But his actions have been recognised by others - he has been awarded the Blueprint for Free Speech Whistleblowing Prize.
Jack Stilgoe, an associate professor at University College London who researches autonomous vehicles, said Mr Krupski's claims raised wider concerns about the technology.
"This is a sort of test case of artificial intelligence in the wild, on the open road, surrounded by all the rest of us," he said.
The UK Government announced plans for an Automated Vehicles Bill to outline a legal framework for self-driving cars in the King's Speech in early November.
"We'll have to see as the bill gets developed whether it grapples with all of the novel things about the technology," Prof Stilgoe added.
Even longtime observers of the unpredictable Elon Musk were stunned by his remarks last week onstage at the New York Times DealBook Summit with journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin.
In response to an advertising boycott that has been growing, Musk told companies: "Don't advertise" — before saying corporations were attempting to "blackmail" him with money. He used the F-word in cursing out companies that have decided to step back from the platform.
Owners of embattled companies do not usually attack their customers. But Musk is different.
"That was kind of the final nail in the coffin. If he's telling you what he wants you to do, believe him," said Tom Hespos, who runs Abydos, an advertising consulting firm.
Many advertisers have been taking Musk at his word.
Since his hostile takeover of Twitter last year, Musk has cleared out more than two-thirds of the staff, including teams dedicating to policing the platform for hate speech and harassment.
Musk reinstated previously banned users and made "verified" blue check marks available for purchase, wreaking havoc across the site as impersonators and bad actors looking to spread false posts jumped on the opportunity to have a blue check mark on their profile. The platform's algorithm supercharges posts from paid users.
Musk himself created yet another controversy by endorsing an antisemitic post on X that claimed Jewish communities push hatred of white people. Musk said that this was the "actual truth."
"Advertisers don't want to answer questions about why are you on a platform that seems like it's a safe space for antisemitism, for hate speech," Hespos said.
Many major corporations like Walmart, Apple, Disney and IBM have stopped advertising on X.
I don't ask much of the people here at a2k. But I am asking now for a favor.
Elon Musk is getting WAY TOO MANY votes in this IMDb Poll.
Despite, your feelings for Steve Jobs? I really would like if you go in and sign into your IMDb account and give the Apple founder a vote.
Elon Musk privately told some of the bankers who lent him $13 billion to fund his leveraged buyout of Twitter that they would not lose any money on the deal, according to five people familiar with the matter.
The verbal guarantees were made by Musk to banks as a way to reassure the lenders as the value of the social media site, now rebranded as X, fell sharply after he completed the acquisition last year.
Despite the assurances, the seven banks that lent money to the billionaire for his buyout—Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays, MUFG, BNP Paribas, Mizuho and Société Générale—are facing serious losses on the debt if and when they eventually sell it.
The sources did not specify when Musk’s assurances were made, although one noted Musk had made them on several occasions. But the billionaire’s behavior, both in attempting to back out of the takeover in 2022 and more recently in alienating advertisers, has more broadly stymied the banks’ efforts to offload the debt since he engineered the takeover.
Large hedge funds and credit investors on Wall Street held conversations with the banks late last year, offering to buy the senior-most portion of the debt at roughly 65 cents on the dollar. But in recent interviews with the Financial Times, several said there was no price at which they would buy the bonds and loans, given their inability to gauge whether Linda Yaccarino, X’s chief executive, could turn the business around.
One multibillion-dollar firm that specializes in distressed debt called X’s debt “uninvestable.”
Selling the $12.5 billion of bonds and loans below 60 cents on the dollar—a price many investors believe the banks would be lucky to achieve in the current market—would imply losses before accounting for X’s interest payments of $4 billion or more, writedowns that have not yet been publicly reported by the syndicate of lenders, according to FT calculations. The debt is split between $6.5 billion of term loans, as well as $6 billion of senior and junior bonds and a $500 million revolver.