Automotive

Elon Musk shows how his Boring Company plans to tunnel under traffic

Elon Musk shows how his Boring...
Elon Musk's Boring Company hopes to shoot cars through a network of tunnels
Elon Musk's Boring Company hopes to shoot cars through a network of tunnels
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Elon Musk's Boring Company hopes to shoot cars through a network of tunnels
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Elon Musk's Boring Company hopes to shoot cars through a network of tunnels

Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk is sharing yet another vision for the future, and this time it's totally underground. The originator of the Hyperloop, purveyor of snazzy solar panels and man with a plan to connect our brains showed off a concept for escaping rush hour traffic via high-speed conveyance through a network of tunnels at TED in Vancouver on Friday.

Last December, Musk announced via Twitter that his irritation with Los Angeles traffic was inspiring him to start yet another company, cleverly named "The Boring Company."

"Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging…"

This month, a boring machine showed up at SpaceX headquarters near Los Angeles where it will soon begin to bore some test tunnels, and Musk shared a brief video at TED showing how he hopes to help cities dig their way under and around gridlock.

The Boring Company | Tunnels

The video shows cars on the ground level pulling into specially designed platforms that Musk calls "skates." The skate is then lowered into a multi-level underground system of tunnels where the vehicle is conveyed on the skate to its destination at speeds up to 124 mph (200 km/h).Musk pointed out that it should be possible to dig tunnels several levels deep, comparing them to mines that extend several stories deep below the surface.

Of course, big dig projects are never the simplest or easiest things to complete. The world's longest railroad tunnel was recently finished in Switzerland, an achievement 17 years in the making.

However, few people are known for looking further into the future than Elon Musk, who announced his hopes to build a million-person colony on Mars by the end of the century. The Boring Company certainly doesn't seem to be in a hurry to route traffic underground anytime soon.

"This is basically interns and people doing it part time," Musk said. "We bought some second hand machinery. It's kind of puttering along but making good progress."

He joked that a snail can currently travel 14 times faster than a tunnel boring machine and a preliminary goal will be to catch up to the gastropod.

"Victory will be beating the snail," Musk said.

Sources: Recode, The Boring Company

16 comments
TimothyRichburg
I have several concerns for this concept. First, what city? With that many tunnels underground could make the geo-landscape unstable. However, New York is an example of concept but would have to compete with existing metropolitan transportation. Second, the tunnels would have to be stable against of earthquakes. Lastly, what happens when the skate breaks?
Jimjam
Watching that video I was thinking - why bother with the Telsa cars at all if you have a cheap underground network with self propelled carts? Also, unless Elon or someone has figured out some much cheaper way to tunnel, tunnels are enormously expensive. I think having several billion dollars tied up in a car company is blinding him to the use of a PRT system - pods on micro monorail beams in the air. Much cheaper than tunnels or highway elevated roads. One of the reasons why this hasn't happened yet is that each pod needs to be self driving, and even 15 years ago this would have cost over a hundred grand per pod, even given that elevated pods only have to deal with other computer controlled pods, not pedestrians. Self driving cars may end up largely getting cars out of cities ironically.
Daishi
@Jim I agree personal rapid transport pods are the best public transport method. We need a standard way to measure transport system throughout like people per minute per square meter. We need game mods that measure competing ideas for city planning transport. The actual best option might be telepresence to better support remote work though. We go through great effort to put people in the same office.
BarwiseBirch
Why bother with this when you could just build an underground railway network with several huge car parks outside the city. That would have the dual benefit of being able to transport many more times the number of people and clean up the city air at the same time. Why be wedded to you cars?
ArminSachse
Problem with billionaires driving our future. The tunnel is designed to carry a car with one person on board. Jeez, should it be designed to carry a bus loads. There are other people on earth besides billionaires
sagebrush6
May people want to get from one end of a city (straight through) to the other end quickly and a tunnel like this would be fine for an expressway for those not needing to stop in the city. Just passing through. Regardless of the number of passengers in the vehicles, I think a direct tunnel through could work well.
Bob Flint
Love the disappearing skates as they lower into the ground below, what happens to the lowly traveler in another mode of transport following behind with the big hole left by the fantasy elevator? Or for that matter when it tries to reappear while something else is moving or stopped on that same ground above it? Just as a reminder, water loves to be at the bottom of all tunnels, so maybe submarines might be in order, unless perhaps planning on running in partial vacuum as well as the Hyperloopy......
morongobill
Maybe some of us non-billionaires might like to stay solo.
RewRixom
And then there was an earthquake
aksdad
Or you could move to a place with a lot less traffic. Just saying....