Elon Musk has unveiled, what he calls, his vision of an “entirely new system of transport”. The vision — a network of tunnels running underneath our cities, of which a 1.14-mile long test tunnel was shown by Musk. He believes that this high-speed tunnel system could ease congestion and revolutionize how millions of commuters get around cities.
The 1.14-mile-long tunnel is underneath one of the main streets in Hawthorne, California. One end of the tunnel starts in a parking lot owned by Musk’s Space X. The other end of the demonstration tunnel is in a neighborhood about a mile away in Hawthorne.
Engineers and workers of The Boring Company have been boring the tunnel using a modified boring machine called Godot. According to the company, the cost for this tunnel comes at around $10 million, which includes the cost of building the tunnel, all internal infrastructure, lighting, communication and video, safety systems, ventilation, and track.
The Boring Company gave reporters demonstration rides through the tunnel in modified Tesla Model X SUVs, going between 40 and 50 miles per hour. Engineers have attached deployable alignment wheels to the two front wheels of the Model X which stick out to the side of the main wheels and act as a bumper along the track walls inside the tunnel, keeping the Model X on the course and preventing the vehicle from running into the side walls of the tunnel.
The tunnels could be stacked — which Elon Musk calls a 3D network — and operate like a giant underground highway with vehicles entering and exiting at strategic points along the way through ramp, spiral or elevator depending on available space.
However, there are some important caveats to this system. This is a concept and currently doesn’t exist at the scale Musk envisions, although there are numerous cities and utilities interested.
In June, the Boring Co. signed a deal with the City of Chicago to develop matching 17-mile, high-speed transit tunnels between the city’s business district and O’Hare Airport. However, more than a half year later, the project has yet to receive approval from the government and regulatory groups.
Musk says that only electric vehicles would be allowed in the Loop (which is what The Boring Company is calling the concept). It would also have dedicated vehicles for pedestrians and bicyclists that Musk speculated could cost about $1 a ride. The vehicles for public transport would run in a loop and get priority.