It’s beginning to feel as though each passing month brings a new, sensational declaration by Elon Musk. For those who may be less familiar with the name, Musk is the engineer and entrepreneur in charge of Tesla, SpaceX, and a few other major technology companies. Born in South Africa but holding both Canadian and American citizenship, he’s a fascinating character who, at just 45, has become one of the defining voices in a loud and rapidly developing era of technology. For those with any interest in business or tech, Musk is becoming an icon.
But as much as he’s already known for some incredible achievements—like designing rocket launch mechanisms that return to base to be re-used or spreading electric cars on a massive scale in the U.S.—he’s perhaps best known for the things he still wants to accomplish. Musk is nothing if not visionary. With that in mind, let’s take a look at four of the goals and projects that he’s currently working on.
- Providing Worldwide Internet
You might have recently seen some advertisements indicating that Facebook is attempting to provide Internet to remote parts of the world by beaming it from drone planes. That’s a lofty goal, and it could be a solution that brings the Internet to regions that have remained almost entirely without an online connection. If successful, the project will change the lives of millions around the world.
But Musk’s plan for providing Internet connections is even more ambitious. According to Extreme Tech, Musk wants to build a network of 4,000 satellites operating at low-Earth orbit where they could supply internet, first to developing countries and then to the rest of the world. Furthermore, he wants to use this same network of satellites to establish a sort of communications bridge strong enough to go between Earth and Mars (which will come in handy when we get to his next big dream). The worldwide Internet idea is likely a long way away from becoming a reality, but Google is behind the concept in a (financially) big way, so expect to hear more about this.
- Colonizing Mars (And Beyond)
Entrepreneur recently published a headline suggesting that NASA and Musk may compete over Mars. The world’s leading space agency, which put a man on the moon, is seemingly being outstripped by a single man leading an incredibly ambitious company (SpaceX) in an attempt to reach and colonize Mars. Reading into things a bit more, it still seems likely that Nasa will continue to lead Mars research in the near future. They’ve already placed rovers on the Red Planet and are continuing along that line of exploration. But when it comes to establishing a permanent colony, Musk appears to be moving out in front in a new, developing space race.
- Creating Self-Driving Car Networks
Self-driving cars are starting to generate a lot of headlines around the world, particularly in the U.S. This is despite there still being some pretty significant challenges facing the technology. In most places, regulations have not been put in place yet to determine if and where such vehicles can operate on the road. Networkfleet noted that there are still some serious issues with automated systems, including an inability to recognize nonverbal communication from pedestrians or other drivers.
But Musk might be closer than anyone to making it happen. Reports have indicated that the Tesla vehicles he’s already selling come with all of the necessary software to be turned into autonomous vehicles. They even have “autopilot” modes that more or less allow the cars to drive themselves while on highways. There’s plenty of competition (including from both Google and Ford, to name a few), but Musk is quickly working toward creating nationwide networks of self-driving vehicles.
- Solving The Energy Crisis
As Wired put it, Musk just recently unveiled a more attractive way to turn roof tiles into solar panels. It may sound like a gimmick, but Musk’s aim is to make it standard for homes to have roofs that can generate solar power. Combined with his existing plan to power homes with large batteries, this is all part of an effort to solve the world’s energy crisis. The products haven’t been perfected yet, and rollout will be slow when they are, but Musk has effectively invented the potential for a self-sustaining, energy-neutral home.