The Boring Company: Elon Musk's plan to beat traffic
November 12, 2019 •
All Images Source: The Boring Company
Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has demonstrated a lot of interest in creating and speeding up transportation systems, both in space and on land. Musk has founded The Boring Company with the goal "to solve the problem of soul-destroying traffic" by building an underground network of high-speed transportation tunnels.
Like many of Musk's most crazy ambitious ideas, The Boring Company began as a tweet. He tweeted the Boring Company into existence in December 2016, when he joked about being so frustrated by Los Angeles, California traffic, "Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging..." he wrote, "I am actually going to do this. It shall be called 'The Boring Company.'"
It shall be called "The Boring Company"— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 17, 2016
He has said that populated cities like Los Angeles can only beat traffic by going “3D down or 3D up,” and that flying cars would be too dangerous to use.
To solve the problem of soul-destroying traffic, roads must go 3D, which means either flying cars or tunnels. Unlike flying cars, tunnels are weatherproof, out of sight and won't fall on your head. A large network of tunnels many levels deep would help alleviate congestion in any city, no matter how large it grew (just keep adding levels).
-The Boring Company
Source: The Boring Company
Musk envisions vehicles transported into the underworld by elevators into layers of underground routes where thousands of cars could travel at high speeds on electric tracks. The company is now developing a zero-emission electric and autonomous transport system for tunnels.
This underground transport system would be for electric vehicles. The car would "attach" onto sets of "tracking wheels" that would deploy from underneath as a guide to keep the car on the electric track, like a train.
So tunnel users would mount "tracking wheels" on their own electric vehicles. In the future, these "tracking wheels" could be added to any vehicle other than Tesla's for "$200 to $300." Musk Said:
“Deployable tracking wheels can guide the car quickly through a tunnel, even if autopilot fails or the driver passes out or goes crazy. The tracking wheels will ensure the car stays on track.”
Musk also emphasized that The Boring Company would prioritize pedestrians and cyclists by providing vehicle transportation in a Loop tunnel system exclusively for them. He said:
All Boring Loops will include continuously circulating cars dedicated to pedestrians & cyclists.
They would charge riders about $1 each to finance it. Under the tunnel network, cars would continually circulate a Loop system to pick up and drop off anyone who wants a ride, like a taxi. Each tunnel would one day be able to support 4,000 cars per hour.
This underground Loop system will be an underground public transportation system in which passengers are transported via compatible autonomous electric vehicles at very high speed of up to 150 miles per hour. Musk said:
"Capable of traveling safely at over 150mph. At that speed, it will feel like teleporting within a city."
Passengers would travel directly to an to a far away destination without stopping at the intermediate stations.
Once operational, loop tunnels would be pave the way for an eventual hyperloop network. Which is an ultra-high-speed system that transports passengers longer distances at 600-plus miles per hour via autonomous electric pods or cars in a vacuum shell.
Hyperloop is an ultra high-speed underground public transportation system in which passengers are transported on autonomous electric pods traveling at 600+ miles per hour in a pressurized cabin. Similar to Loop, Hyperloop pods will transport up to 16 passengers.
-The Boring Company
In February 2017, The Boring Company broke ground. They started to dig a hole at his SpaceX headquarters in California. Musk said, "Let's get started today and see what's the biggest hole we can dig between now and Sunday afternoon, running 24 hours a day." After those 24 hours, the company had managed to produce a hole measuring 30 feet wide, 50 feet long, and 15 feet deep. They dug up the hole with their own boring machine technology (pictured below).
Image: First 1.14 mile long Boring tunnel in Hawthorne, California.
In December 2018, The Boring Company gave test rides at their first unveiling event. They equipped a Tesla Model X with a prototype of the "tracking wheels"- retractable wheel gear that turned the car into a rail-guided train.
During the test drives, the Tesla travelled at speeds of around 50 miles per hour through the company's first tunnel located in 120th Street in Hawthorne, California -next to Musk’s SpaceX headquarters. The 1.14 mile long underground tunnel, runs 40 feet deep.
Musk said it was capable of traveling up to speeds of 110 mph. The Tesla drove on concrete platforms placed on each side to support the vehicle.
At the unveiling event, guests took one mile long rides, some said the rides where bumpy at 50 miles per hour. Musk told reporters that a finished tunnel would be a completely smooth ride, not bumpy, and that offer the tunnels will offer Wi-Fi and cell-phone reception.
The Boring Company's Current Projects
Image: Early concept design for the Chicago Express Loop.
The Boring Company plans to build the Chicago Express Loop that will take future passengers from downtown’s Block 37 to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport in only 12 minutes. Typically, due to high traffic that's approximately a 45-minute journey.
Other proposals include a 35-mile Washington, D.C. to Baltimore hyperloop, A Las Vegas loop, and citywide Los Angeles loop network, including an operational proof of concept Dugout Loop connecting Red Line Metro station neighborhoods to the Dodger Stadium.
Passengers would board into autonomous electric vehicles, which access the Dugout Loop tunnel from the surface via a ramp or elevator.
It will be exciting to watch this underworld come to life!
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.