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Elon Musk Says Boring Company Will Sell 'Lego-Like' Kits of Excavated Rock (theverge.com) 95

Elon Musk says his Boring Company will sell "interlocking bricks" made from the rock that its tunnel-creating machines excavate from the ground. In other words, think Lego, he says, except giant, heavy, and made of Earth. The Verge reports: Musk says that the Boring Company will sell "kits" of bricks, starting with one that makes it easy to build things from "ancient Egypt," like replicas of the pyramids, the Sphinx, or the Temple of Horus. The bricks will be "lifesize," though it's not clear what that actually means. And they'll be bored through the middle, to save some weight, but still rated to withstand California's earthquakes. (As is typical, Musk announced the idea in freewheeling fashion on Twitter.) t's unclear when these bricks, or the kits, will be available or how much they'll cost. The Boring Company is currently only digging short, preliminary tunnels in California and Maryland, so there's presumably not enough to start selling any of this upturned rock just yet. But the small company has big plans for tunnels around the country meant to facilitate debatably futuristic modes of transportation, so there will be plenty of newly removed earth if even half of those ever come to fruition.
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Elon Musk Says Boring Company Will Sell 'Lego-Like' Kits of Excavated Rock

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 26, 2018 @09:04PM (#56331329)

    "I reckon I could get people to buy dirt from me"

    • Trying to find extra value of the left over rubbish, a.k.a. "revaluating / recycling", has been standard practice since as long as people have been digging (or boring).
      Inventing ways to getting people to buy dirt is literally the norm in the field.

      It's the marketing spin that's new:
      Usually the dirt is provided as a ultra cheap material to fill holes, mix with concrete, etc.
      Shaping it as the architect's supersized LEGO (as *litteral* bricks) is a new marketing ploy.

      Probably for the free publicity that this n

      • >Probably for the free publicity that this novelty will generate.

        Perhaps. But standardized concrete construction blocks have a LOT of uses (I'm assuming a boring drill can't carve out nice big LEGO blocks from raw stone...). And with the right mobile casting equipment, hauling construction blocks out of a tunnel would be a LOT more profitable than hauling out rubble. And if he gets his machines digging as fast as he would like it could actually make sense to do so. Bonus points if the blocks meet the r

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I know a guy with a bunch of land. Construction companies pay him to dump dirt there. Then they come back and buy dirt. Somehow he makes a good living doing this. Just boggles my mind.

  • Will sell boring products. What are these for and who will want them.
    • What are these for and who will want them.

      Gee, that's exactly what folks say about the "Easter Island" eyeless head statues, as well.

      I'm thinking that Musk is going to follow that model, and produce a bunch of big stone Musk heads, modeled after himself. These will be placed all over the world, in the places that you would least expect a giant eyeless Musk head.

      What will be the true business purpose of the Musk heads . . . ?

      Only Musk will know, for sure . . . and he is not twitting about it!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    My old pet is not moving and might be dead.

  • Truthiness (Score:3, Funny)

    by godel_56 ( 1287256 ) on Monday March 26, 2018 @09:13PM (#56331379)
    Even his joking twitter posts still have more credibility then Trump's real ones. :)
  • New boring tech? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by glitch! ( 57276 ) on Monday March 26, 2018 @09:16PM (#56331387)

    I must have missed an important tech advancement in tunnel boring. I thought his machines were the traditional super long cylinders with a massive grinding head at the front. The result is probably some kind of slurry that is piped out to the surface.

    But if he is getting solid blocks, he must have something more advanced that I had assumed. Maybe something that cuts the sides like a mega chainsaw? Or some variation of a wire cutter? In any event, getting large blocks out instead of grinding everything to a powder must be a great advance, and I am curious about that.

    • Re:New boring tech? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mveloso ( 325617 ) on Monday March 26, 2018 @09:41PM (#56331467)

      They're going to pour the slurry into molds and sell it.

      It makes sense, because instead of disposing of the earth (which is quite expensive) he's getting people to pay him for it. That's pretty clever any way you slice it.

      • Don't we already have a method of using existing aggregate in concrete? Is there some advantage to using pre-fab blocks instead of simply pouring on-site into existing molds?

        Not pretending to be knowledgeable in this area at all, but just a bit confused about how this is somehow more desirable than more traditional building materials. Maybe less expensive in bulk, since they really just have to negate some disposal costs.

        • Every man and his son can use prefabed lego like stones to build a house, probably even without need of mortar.

          Building your own house, with your own concrete, and setting up the "forms" for it: is not that easy.

          • by Nehmo ( 757404 )

            I built a 320-foot x 6-foot formed, concrete retaining wall. I overbuilt to compensate for my possible ignorance. (I used 6 instead of 5 bag mix, for example.) The result was the best retaining wall in Kansas City (if I say so myself). I have a background in mechanical things and construction, but I had never done any concrete before. It's not that hard to do, and I learned that many concrete experts aren't.
            Despite being technically easy, there is an economic problem with forms. You really need to own them

            • When it comes to concrete the expert advice I got from one of my neighbor's friends who works for a construction company making all sorts of structures is:
              A lot is a good start
              More is better
              And too much is just about right
              This discussion was had while helping my neighbor build his shed as we were leveling and pouring an 8" thick slab for a 10'x16' shed with a bunch of rebar added in for good measure. Basically just over build with it and you will be good. 2 years later helping build his new detached gar
            • Did he say anything about "huge" though? Interlocking cinder-block size solid blocks could find a lot of use. So long as they're small enough for one man (or even two) to stack them easily they could be extremely convenient to build with.

              • They would be super convenient, if you either change your mind and want to rebuild it a little bit or if you just want to work occasionally at an afternoon for 30 minutes.

        • There's a lot of use for non-traditional building material. Unless you get into the high-rise building territory, bricks like these could presumably be used for low-embedded-energy construction.
      • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

        if you could do that, you could do it already by disposing of said earth from other projects for "free".

        these would be two separate biz moves.

        look, superficially these things have a business connection but really they don't have.

        it's superficially clever but not at all - if he has some new compress-earth-into-solid-blocks-that-stay-solid technology, then that it's bored from the ground matters little. he could have the earth literally from anywhere if it made any sense financially.

        the questions to ask is si

      • Doesn't it take a certain amount of refinement and processing to make this possible, and doesn't the viability of making "stuff" from dirt depend on what material you're digging and where?

        Doesn't seem as simple or straightforward as it sounds. Then again, people DID buy pet rocks, so...

      • He's an idiot. Any fool knows that if you need to get rid of a load of dirt, you dig another hole and stick it down there.

    • They seem to be using standard muck carts for the waste. I would imagine these are compressed with some cement in them and cured.

    • by mikael ( 484 )

      Make giant interlocking blocks that could form tube walls:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    • Or maybe he'll make sure that the slurry used is mostly clay (which is where you want to dig anyway, because having tunnels dug in clay makes them easier to keep watertight), he'll license the patent [clay-wienerberger.com] from this manufacturer or do a variation of that design, and he'll pour the slurry of clay into some honeycomb-like/lego-like molds that he bakes. That's it.

      After all, it's not like his flame flower is using groundbreaking technology either, but he has been able to sell a huge number of them at a pretty ridicul

    • Maybe something that cuts the sides like a mega chainsaw?

      You're thinking solid blocks; not happening. Think powdered rock pressed into bricks, using heat, pressure, adhesive, etc.

      No, I didn't RTFA - yet.

  • The tesla enters the tunnel.... The steering wheel automatically folds up... the car is fully auto mouse. Drives through the tunnel... steering wheel and user control fully restored.... HELL YA... the future man.
  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Monday March 26, 2018 @09:34PM (#56331455) Homepage

    Elon: I'm going to build a rocket that lands itself after its done
    press: okay cool!
    Elon: I'm building a tunnel digging company because traffic sucks
    press: right on!
    Elon: I'm selling a flamethrower if you wanna buy it.

    press: ..what?
    Elon: Also i launched my car into space on a mission to orbit mars
    press:..okay...uh...
    Elon: im making legos out of the rocks we excavate from my drilling project, then you use them like legos!
    press:...seriously?
    Fire Department: OK everyone we need you to clear out of Mr. Musks office immediately, theres been a gas leak here for quite some time and we dont yet know the extent of the exposure

    Elon, on a stretcher: I'm building a tunnel you know!

  • Hmmm. Should I switch from buying Beanie Babies to this?

  • It is not "Lego". It is LEGO® brand building blocks.

  • Let's start an internet rumor that Elon Musk's Boring Company, (so named to try to divert attention away from it, as the saying goes, if you want to do something evil, wrap it in something boring!) has purchased and intends NOT to use, or is otherwise suppressing existent teleportation technology that would allow, in only 3 to 5 years, people to beam from one place to another, Star Trek style, for a trivial amount of money, so as to charge people huge amounts of money to move their carcasses, cave-man style
  • Flamethrowers that aren't flamethrowers.
    Legos that aren't Lego(tm).
    Lets face it, the only thing "hyper" in Boring's Hyperloop is hyperbole.

  • Gotta love harmless eccentric billionaires. Much better than any other kind of billionaire imho.

  • Can a golden calf be sold too?
  • Combine lego-type blocks and AI? Maybe not a good idea... [youtube.com]

  • I posted on the announcement tweet for these lego asking about the delivery times for the Flame Thrower. Musk responded with "Prob May" Do you think he means this year? Do we have any record of accuracy for these "Prob" estimates? Thanks
  • Then I can finally build that Ender Chest.

  • Too heavy to transport. Don't get the practical application. Hopefully there is one though! Cool idea, reuse byproduct

  • Is Elon Musk on cocaine ???

  • It started when a Dutch concrete company tried to find something useful to do with the excess concrete that came back in their mixer trucks. So they made a bunch of smallish moulds shaped like a 2x4 Lego brick and poured the excess in them.
    These became wildly popular as temporary barriers and construction material, and nowadays any number of concrete suppliers will sell you stackable, interlocking concrete bricks.

  • Tunnel boring machines do not neatly cut out the rock. They grind it up and spit out gravel.

    While one could, theoretically, cut out nice chunks of rock (assuming the place you are tunneling actual has decent rock), taking time for this would massively slow the actual digging process. And for what, exactly? It's not like quarried stone is something difficult to find.

  • One of the outstanding questions was, "what do you do with all the excavated material?" Turns out he intends to make them into bricks (consider the description - life size, holes through the middle, withstand an earthquake) and sell them. Yes, bricks are lego-like. So it's not that crazy. He's just hoping to turn the excavated material into a building product.
  • Maybe Elon is trying to get back into Trump's good graces by making bricks for his wall.

  • Musk could drop a giant turd on the ground, call it special, and a significant number of people would be fighting over the opportunity to own it.
  • So all of this may be a precursor to mars/moon habitat building & transport infrastructure maybe? I wonder if the dimensions of the borer would fit in the BFR? Flamethrower is to fry aliens of course...

  • Elon has not met the Uniform Building Code which dictates not only materials but rate of production for building materials in the US. The bricks and mortar kind of code is a product of the San Francisco bricklayers union based upon production of 80 bricks per hour. ANYTHING that poses a threat to that hallowed sanctuary for union labor in the US is an impossibly expensive process.
    Getting new innovative product introduced in the US is so cumbersome that you must go to EU to see what the future looks like.

  • https://static1.squarespace.co... [squarespace.com]

    Linked from: https://www.boringcompany.com/... [boringcompany.com]

    Must be a beta version - no visible interlocking mechanism.

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