The Boring Company Product LaunchDecember 19, 2018
The Boring Company (TBC) unveiled to the public its recently finished tunnel in Hawthorne. The event started with Elon Musk travelling the whole tunnel length (1.14 mile)
inside of a Tesla Model X with a special pair of guiding wheels taking care of steering.
The car had a driver, however, TBC claims the tunnel can be used in autonomous mode by any electric vehicle with adaptive cruise control capability.
The presentation started with Elon’s explanation why tunnels are important to solve the “soul-destroying” traffic problem.
The most important advantage as compared to standard solutions seems to be the capability to have unlimited number of tunnels. It doesn’t come cheap though. Even with all the advancements done by TBC the tunnel cost was around $10m. This is what most highways cost per km in Europe which have multiple lanes in both directions. TBC tunnel is only one lane in one direction. Nevertheless, given the fact that it was constructed in the middle of one of the largest agglomerations in the world TBC product may definitely be an attractive alternative for certain cities.
Bricks offer a promising way to save almost 15% in construction costs. The quality of them isn’t something which was discussed though.
Long term TBC plans to achieve an exponential speed improvement in tunnel construction. In order to do so a custom-designed boring machine is being constructed which will have 3x the power of standard Tunnel Boring Machines.
At the moment TBC offers three main products. A standard tunnel for passenger transportation, utility tunnel and water tunnel.
TBC after the presentation offered rides to all the attendees. The velocities reached were in 50-60 mph range while the system is designed for 150 mph. With the announced headway of just 1 s the theoretical system capacity is 19800 passengers per hour assuming 6 passengers per car. This compares favourably with freeways which have the capacity of 7200 passenger per hour per lane (for 4 passengers per car), but falls short of metro systems which can move up to 30000 passengers per hour.
This assummes that the car enters the main corridor travelling at full speed of 150 mph and never slows down. For that to happen switches for the offramps would need to move the car at full speed too. We will see in the coming months whether this is technicaly feasible.