Urban Transport

Elon Musk's Boring Company shares potential map of LA tunnel network

Elon Musk's Boring Company sha...
The Boring Company's proof-of-concept tunnel beneath LA
The Boring Company's proof-of-concept tunnel beneath LA
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Musk first started talking about tunnels as a solution to traffic in December last year
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Musk first started talking about tunnels as a solution to traffic in December last year
The Boring Company's tunneling machine at its headquarters in LA
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The Boring Company's tunneling machine at its headquarters in LA
Proof-of-concept tunnel entrance at The Boring Company's headquarters in LA
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Proof-of-concept tunnel entrance at The Boring Company's headquarters in LA
A new map shared by The Boring Company shows a potential network of tunnels sprawled beneath LA 
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A new map shared by The Boring Company shows a potential network of tunnels sprawled beneath LA 
The Boring Company's tunneling machine at its headquarters in LA
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The Boring Company's tunneling machine at its headquarters in LA
The Boring Company's proof-of-concept tunnel beneath LA
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The Boring Company's proof-of-concept tunnel beneath LA
The Boring Company's tunneling machine at its headquarters in LA
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The Boring Company's tunneling machine at its headquarters in LA
Proof-of-concept tunnel entrance at The Boring Company's headquarters in LA
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Proof-of-concept tunnel entrance at The Boring Company's headquarters in LA
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The Boring Company was dreamt up by serial entrepreneur Elon Musk as a way of solving traffic woes, and the notoriously choked up highways of LA are among its very first targets. With a proof-of-concept tube already underway, The Boring Company has now expanded on its plans for the City of Angels, offering an idea of how a network of high-speed tunnels could take shape.

Musk first started talking about tunnels as a solution to traffic problems last December, and in the space of a year he's made some impressive strides. Earlier this year, he held "promising talks" with the mayor of LA about his tunnel network ideas, and then in October revealed that the company had begun boring its first tube beneath the city.

These tunnels would essentially function as fast freeways, where vehicles and passenger pods latch onto electric skates and get shuttled along at up to 150 mph (241 km/h). There would be on and off ramps every mile or so, each with a dedicated side tunnel to avoid logjams. These tunnels could also form part of a Hyperloop system over larger distances between cities.

While all of that remains a ways off, the company is making progress on its proof-of-concept tunnel. Photos shared by Musk in October showed a fully concreted tunnel complete with tracks and cables that he said at the time measured 500 ft (152.4 m) and within three of four months would stretch to around 2 mi (3.2 km).

A new map shared by The Boring Company shows a potential network of tunnels sprawled beneath LA 
A new map shared by The Boring Company shows a potential network of tunnels sprawled beneath LA 

In a new map shared by The Boring Company, this tunnel can be seen in red, running alongside the Interstate 405 highway between West LA and Inglewood. The company has filed an excavation permit application for this, which it calls Phase 1 proof-of-concept tunnel and says it would eventually measure 6.5 mi (10.4 km) in length.

This tube will be used for safety testing and demonstrations, but not for public transport until it had been ticked off by the local authorities and The Boring Company itself. The routes shown in blue are potential expansion options, though these are simply conceptual at this point. The company says it would develop these tunnels in collaboration with the authorities and will be seeking input from the general public on station locations and other system improvements.

Source: The Boring Company

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1 comment
aki009
The Achilles' heel of this concept is the on-loading and off-loading process. While the tunnel can accommodate more vehicles by simply increasing the speeds at which the cars run, the human-intensive loading part will be extremely tricky to get right. It sounds like their "solution" is to add on and off ramps to parallelize the process, but it remains to be seen if that'll do it. One challenge is the maximum speed at which cars can switch to parallel tracks; if it's too low it effectively caps system capacity. Hoping that this works, I'm looking forward to an experience similar to the car trains that go through mountains in Switzerland. It's an easy on/off even for a first timer. But given the higher speeds that are contemplated by BC, there are interesting engineering challenges in the design of the cars.