Urban Transport

Elon Musk has "promising" talks with LA mayor about his traffic-solving tunnels

Elon Musk has "promising" talk...
LA doesn't seem like the worst place for Elon's new machines to make their debut.
LA doesn't seem like the worst place for Elon's new machines to make their debut.
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The Boring Company has already begun digging a test tunnel at its headquarters in LA
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The Boring Company has already begun digging a test tunnel at its headquarters in LA
A render of one of The Boring Company's passenger sleds
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A render of one of The Boring Company's passenger sleds
Elon Musk says cars, bikes and pedestrians could be carried through his tunnels
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Elon Musk says cars, bikes and pedestrians could be carried through his tunnels
The Boring Company has already begun digging a test tunnel at its headquarters in LA
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The Boring Company has already begun digging a test tunnel at its headquarters in LA
When Elon Musk started talking about digging tunnels as a way of avoiding traffic, a lot of people were hesitant to take the SpaceX CEO seriously
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When Elon Musk started talking about digging tunnels as a way of avoiding traffic, a lot of people were hesitant to take the SpaceX CEO seriously
Elon Musk has apparently met with the mayor of LA about his idea for underground tunnel networks
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Elon Musk has apparently met with the mayor of LA about his idea for underground tunnel networks
LA doesn't seem like the worst place for Elon's new machines to make their debut.
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LA doesn't seem like the worst place for Elon's new machines to make their debut.

When Elon Musk started talking about digging tunnels as a way of avoiding traffic, a lot of people were hesitant to take the SpaceX CEO seriously. Not only is he now starting to convince the average joe that such a thing might be possible, but the people in power, too.

Only six months have passed since Elon Musk first publicly raised the idea of building a tunneling machine to burrow beneath Los Angeles, but the project has gathered some serious steam in that time. The Boring Company has since been discussed by Musk onstage at a TED conference, given legitimacy by a detailed company website and has even started digging a test tunnel at its headquarters in LA.

Apparently inspired by an afternoon stuck in LA traffic, Musk imagines that his solution will one day have cars descend below the streets to be shuttled along electric sleds through 14-ft (4.2 m)-wide tunnels. The technological breakthrough that would make all this possible is primarily a huge reduction in tunneling costs – by factor or more than 10.

While Musk will have a bunch of technological hurdles to clear, he'll also need to win over regulators before he starts digging his way underneath major cities. And according to a tweet this morning, the Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti is at least open to the idea.

Elon Musk has apparently met with the mayor of LA about his idea for underground tunnel networks
Elon Musk has apparently met with the mayor of LA about his idea for underground tunnel networks

And to throw a little but more momentum behind the idea, Garcetti personally mentioned Musk's proposition in a televised interview when discussing new ways of getting from LA's airport to Union Station downtown.

"Like many other cities have I'd love to see, maybe even with the new tunneling technology that people like Elon Musk is looking at, whether we can have a direct route from LAX to Union Station," he said on ABC7's Eyewitness Newsmakers on Sunday.

As a city that is famous for its traffic and home to The Boring Company's headquarters, LA doesn't seem like the worst place for Elon's new machines to make their debut.

Source: Twitter 1, 2

7 comments
Jimjam
I think they are moving in the right direction having gone from cars to electric sleds. It is starting to look like the Unimodal PRT system installed at Heathrow airport. However it still has the same weaknesses as that system - it is still self driving rubber wheeled electric buses running on a road. So although the cars/pods can turn on a dime in 2 dimensions (going around a corner), they need very long (and wide) ramps to move up and down in 3 dimensions without the car/pod sliding. Hanging pods on a micro monorail would overcome this problem. Also micro monorails are light and cheap to put in the air, avoiding the need for much super expensive tunneling or highway bridges in the first place. Plus a hanging pod with rubber wheels doesn't have to deal with frost or leaves or other debris falling or forming on the track surface.
ezeflyer
How will it resist earthquakes?
Douglas Bennett Rogers
People in California should start with figuring out how to build a basement.
Daniel Harbin
As a civil engineer I have seen many tunnels and ambitious projects including tunnels hundreds of feet below ground level. Not researched the water table in LA, I wonder how they will take care of that. I admit most of my work underground was in sewer and water systems so water infiltration wasn't a problem. Water is under pressure and sewage systems have water infiltration but it is not critical. In the Musk transport system it seems that water infiltration would be a huge and expensive problem. Then of course there is shifting soils and earthquakes.
john1210
Yeah, they've been building tunnels in England for hundreds? of years, I think they can deal with the water table...My point is that it's encouraging to see someone giving some thought about how to SOLVE the traffic problem instead of accepting that this is just the way it will always be, so let's focus instead on how to make this down time more productive instead of eliminating or reducing it altogether.
MikeF
You don't solve traffic congestion problems by increasing capacity, which essentially is all this is doing. People will still have to drive to the tunnels, then drive to their destination when they leave them. Encouraging the use of private cars by promising freedom from traffic isn't going to solve anything. Elon Musk has had some great ideas; this isn't one of them.
WilliamSager
The key story here is not the end use of the Boring Machine, but the possibility that one can be built.Engineers can think of a thousand uses. Assuming it's economical.