Meet Loop, The Boring Company Presents Its First Tunnel
More and more plans of Elon Musk come to life. Safe, fast and cheap transportation to all!
The Boring Company has recently presented its brand-new transportation tunnel, 1.14 miles long. A sort of subway for autonomous Teslas or any other autonomous vehicle equipped with liner wheels. Its availability for cyclists and pedestrians is only a matter of time. That's right, Tesla Model X with liner wheel adjustments performed its first test run.
This is how Elon Musk plans to solve the problem with traffic jams. He'd been living in LA for sixteen years and at that time intense traffic really pissed him off. The problem affected him so badly that besides ensuring the survival of humanity with SolarCity and SpaceX projects he had to sit down for a second and envision the better future of transportation. The one that doesn't feel like hell.
Why not flying cars or something?
That would be overly futuristic. The only known vehicle that lifts off and lands vertically is a helicopter. We are not talking about small private reactive aircraft, and science is not quite there yet to make a UFO that utilizes magnetic fields of the Earth, so basically a flying car would be a helicopter with wheels. They are noisy. Even if every single one of these was autopiloted, the probability of collision would still be too high. Besides, these vehicles would have to deal with the enormous wind force which would lead to increased fuel consumption.
So, this is why the tunnels are the choice. These can go directly to a destination point no matter what the terrain is. What about seismic threats? Well, successfully skyscrapers deal with these issues, too.
Tunnels can be stacked beside and below each other underground and the limit to their number will probably never be reached. They're weatherproof and silent. The tunnel construction process doesn't get in the way of anything that goes on the surface. It won't change the city's scenery, occupy much overground space, or cause any kind of distraction.
The nowadays way of tunneling has to be improved. It takes on average 3 to 6 month to bore a mile which is about 14 times slower than a snail. And every mile is very expensive, more than $1 billion.
The goal of The Boring Company is to beat the snail.
Why is tunnel construction so slow anyway?
It is not only about slow digging which only takes 1/6 of the construction time. 5/6 of the time goes on the tunnel reinforcement, dirt removal, building materials supply, and other routines. Thus, The Boring Company targets these drawbacks and introduces a boring machine prototype that installs reinforcement segments on-the-go. Augmented with tripled drilling power and improved cutter design such a machine is expected to finally achieve the aforementioned goal.
Hawthorne, CA is not the easiest place for the debut. It took some pains to pass the government regulations, and the seismic profile of the area is unfavorable. Musk believes that the subsequent tunnel projects are going to go easier.
This is not a replacement for the traditional public transport system, nor its sole purpose is transportation: tunnels can serve as water mains or communication/electricity lines.
How it works
The Hawthorne tunnel features two entry/exit points accessed by an elevator. Each occupies just two parking spaces.
To ride in, a car must either wear a set of external liner wheels or be equipped with retractable ones. Inside, the tunnel is lit with different colors that indicate if the driver should slow down or is safe to accelerate.
The elevator is the go-to choice in the big city. It is possible to create a multiplicity of junctions without messing up the city infrastructure. The other options are the slope and spiral entry points which demand more space but are more reliable from the technical side.
The projected max speed is 150 mph, but that speed has not been reached on the test run. Musk admits that at 110 mph it gets “scary” so the recommended speed, for now, is 30-40 mph.
So, it is obligatory to turn on the self-driving mode to enter the tunnel. However, it is not clear what would happen when multiple cars are inside the tunnel and one of them stops for some reason, possibly creating a jam. That is just some space for the countless design improvements that await The Boring Company products in the future.