The Boring Company, Elon Musk’s tunneling company, has unveiled the recently completed, first test tunnel in Los Angeles. As a demonstration, a Tesla Model X with elevators was brought into the tunnel, where the car stays on course with the help of folding wheels.
On Twitter Elon Musk has given an idea of his vision for the transport system, whereby cars in an underground tunnel should ultimately be able to reach a maximum speed of 241 km / h. This means that city dwellers must be able to move quickly. The idea is that a car, for example, descends to the tunnel with an elevator integrated into the road surface of a parking lot. At the front wheels, the car is fitted with additional folding wheels that protrude from the side and press against a side wall of the tunnel. This means that a journey through the tunnel must be stable, like a train on rails. The special side wheels would cost 200 to 300 dollars per car and can remain folded during overground rides.
American journalists were already allowed to take a ride in a modified Tesla Model X, including working elevators that brought the cars in and out of the tunnel. An LA Times reporter reports that her Model X was manually driven by an employee of The Boring Company and that the car was not going faster than 85 km/h. The ride turned out to be quite bumpy. Elon Musk acknowledged that this is still the case, because there were problems with a machine before. According to him, the tunnel used in this demonstration is a prototype and the final journeys through the tunnel system will be smooth and not bumpy.
Musk states that the system is suitable for all kinds of electric, autonomously driving cars. So it’s not limited to Teslas. It is probably the intention that the cars, once in the tunnel, drive autonomously along the tunnel track. The original idea of this transport system was a lot more complex. Electric skates were used to transport the cars through the tunnel. According to Musk, however, that became too complex. The electric shuttles for a maximum of sixteen passengers are also off the track. In Musk’s vision, pedestrians and cyclists will soon be able to use cars specially intended for them that drive permanently in circles in the tunnel.
Musk thinks these tunnels, called Loops, will eventually be connected to Hyperloop tunnels for transporting cars. It is still unclear exactly how this will work. The Loops don’t have a near-vacuum like the Hyperloop does. It is also still unclear when a fully functioning tunnel system will be ready for use. That will take some time, as the 1.83km long test tunnel cost ten million dollars. Therefore, few cost- and time-saving solutions have been used for digging.