Since June 23, a soccer team made up of 12 boys and their coach have been trapped in a cave system in Thailand. The team went on a short hike but a monsoon trapped them with few options for getting out. Engineers and rescue teams equipped to aid the Thai government have been volunteering to help—a former Thai Navy SEAL died from lack of oxygen as he worked to save the boys—but so far have had no luck. As more heavy rains are expected throughout the next few days, many have been trying to get creative with ways of helping.
One of those folks is Elon Musk, whose Boring Company has advanced tech and expertise in drilling holes. He announced on Twitter that he is sending SpaceX and Boring Company engineers to Thailand to see if any of his tech could be of use in the rescue mission.
It all started with a plea from a random Twitter user. Musk initially seemed hesitant, but soon began realizing he might be in a unique position to help. He began by touting Boring Company’s “advanced ground penetrating radar” and suggested that if his tech could help, he could “dropshop fully charged Powerpacks and pumps.”
I suspect that the Thai govt has this under control, but I’m happy to help if there is a way to do so— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 4, 2018
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.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 5, 2018
Soon, the founder of an engineer company in Thailand got involved, and things got technical. The engineer threw out some measurements about the cave and drills needed, to which Musk answered with a suggestion of a new way to try to drill that involved inflating “air like a bouncy castle.” Musk concluded by confirming that his engineers are headed to Thailand.
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.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 6, 2018
SpaceX & Boring Co engineers headed to Thailand tomorrow to see if we can be helpful to govt. There are probably many complexities that are hard to appreciate without being there in person.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 6, 2018
Here’s another way to put it: Elon Musk hasn’t gone full Tony Stark. There’s no tricked out suit…but it’s no exaggeration to say that Musk, with his high-tech gear being sent halfway around the world to save lives, is probably the billionaire that most closely resembles Iron Man right now. What a concept.