From The Editors Technology

Elon Musk’s Tunnel Vision Reaches 500 Feet under Los Angeles, on its Way to Solve “Soul-Destroying” Traffic Woes

Elon Musk’s tunnel vision, literally, has come a long way since that December day last year when he sat stuck in a Los Angeles traffic snarl and decided to launch “The Boring Company” and build a tunnel to address the city’s traffic woes.

“Boring, it’s what we do,” he had said – and boring is what he did!

Over the weekend, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO tweeted the progress made in The Boring Company’s tunneling efforts thus far – a picture of a finished portion of the under-construction tunnel, curving away out of sight into the distance, complete with tracks, cables, paneled walls, lighting, and a large upper conduit.

Thanks to the monstrous tunnel boring machine (TBM) which Musk chooses to call Godot!

Musk added that the portion shown in the tweeted pic is “500 feet so far” and estimated that another three to four months of boring would extend it to two miles long, hoping to stretch the distance to cover the “whole 405 N-S corridor from LAX to the 101 in a year or so.”

What the tech billionaire is talking about is a 17-mile one-way trip that would take just about eight minutes at a speed of 125 mph, which currently takes no less than an hour to cover on surface, considering the kind of “soul-destroying” traffic one can expect in Los Angeles.

This is how The Boring Company’s website justifies a subterranean solution to LA’s traffic woes:

“To solve the problem of soul-destroying traffic, roads must go 3-D, which means either flying cars or tunnels. Unlike flying cars, tunnels are weatherproof, out of sight and won’t fall on your head.”

The 17-mile tunneling route on Google Maps
The 17-mile tunneling route on Google Maps

Transporting a vehicle, goods, or even pedestrians through the tunnel would involve an electric skate – “a flat plate on wheels propelled by an electric motor” – which is safe, fast, and eco-friendly.

Conceptually, a vehicle would drive on to the skate at surface level, which would then sink below to the tunnel level and transport its payload of a vehicle and its passengers from one end of the tunnel to the other at a speed of 125 mph.

According to the Hawthorne Council document the “Test Tunnel for Zero Emission Subterranean Transportation” has the following specifications.

  • External diameter of 4.1 meters (13.5 feet)
  • Interior diameter of approximately 3.6 meters (12 feet)
  • Depth of 13.4 meters (44 feet) beneath the surface

“When the project is completed, the Test Tunnel would house a ‘skate’ system that would be tested to prove the viability for transporting pedestrians or personal vehicles. The concept is that a vehicle would be driving on to the skate, the engine would be turned off and the vehicle and its passenger would be transported from one end of the Test Tunnel to the other,” says the August resolution.

“The Test Tunnel project would involve SpaceX engineers repeatedly testing and experimenting with personal vehicle types suitable for placement on the skates; refinement of the design and technology; and general data collection on performance, durability, and application. No public use of the Test Tunnel would occur, and no people would be occupying vehicles located on the skates as the skates are tested within the tunnel,” the resolution further states.

Musk This video should give you an idea as to how the system is intended to work.

And here’s a video of the electric skate test run Elon posted earlier this year with a disclaimer that it “may cause motion sickness or seizures.”

In October, the Tesla tycoon got permission from the Maryland Department of Transportation to bore a tunnel underneath a state-owned 10.3-mile-stretch of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway for his ambitious rocket-speed Hyperloop project, which aims to transport passengers from Washington to New York in under 30 minutes.

Here’s Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s tweeted announcement

That’s about all we know about the SpaceX founder’s Maryland hyperloop project, with no specifics about the route or timeline made available, thus far, by the Maryland Transport Dept or Musk.

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