Tuesday 21 January 2020

Elon Musk suggests air tunnel like bouncy castle to rescue boys in Thai cave

Elon Musk (Brian Lawless/PA)
Elon Musk (Brian Lawless/PA)
Independent.ie Business Desk

Entrepreneur Elon Musk has stepped in to help the young footballers trapped in a cave in Thailand.

The billionaire behind the Tesla car and the SpaceX rocket company, had said he would send engineers to help.

The boys became trapped in the cave two weeks ago after water rose and cut them off.

One of Mr Musk's enterprises is Boring Co, which digs tunnels for transport systems and has advanced ground-penetrating radar.

Mr Musk also brainstormed on Twitter about possible technology for a safe evacuation, suggesting that an air tunnel constructed with soft tubing like a bouncy castle could provide flexible passage out.

Mr Musk was approached on Twitter to help the footballers.

At first he tweeted that the Thai authorities probably had it under control.

But when pressed he said: "Boring Co has advanced ground penetrating radar & is pretty good at digging holes. Don't know if pump rate is limited by electric power or pumps are too smal. If so, could dropship fully charged Powerpacks and pumps."

James Yenbamroong, of a Thai aerospace company, joined in.

He tweeted: "SpaceX team reached out to us today to help connect to Thai govt. Our team connected and provided some prep feedback to your team. For pumps, cave has narrowest 70cm cross section and about 5km to 13 guys. For vertical drill, it's about 1/2 mile down and tricky."

Mr Musk replied: "Maybe worth trying: insert a 1m diameter nylon tube (or shorter set of tubes for most difficult sections) through cave network & inflate with air like a bouncy castle. Should create an air tunnel underwater against cave roof & auto-conform to odd shapes like the 70cm hole."

PA Media

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