Elon Musk is an innovative thinker and entrepreneur with a history of running companies that push boundaries and engage the public with futuristic vision. Los Angeles-based “The Boring Company” is no exception.
Setting it’s sights on eliminating traffic congestion, the Boring Company wants to build a network of tunnels for specialized autonomous vehicles with specially fitted tires to bypass roadway congestion entirely .
Once in the tunnels the vehicles will travel at high speed, taking you directly to your destination. The cost will be equal to, or lower than, travelling by public transport.
Sound good right? Sure is, but is it feasible?
Time and Cost Factors
One of the biggest hurdles facing construction of underground tunnels en masse is simply: they’re far too expensive and take too long to bore.
While tunnels have been dug for centuries, they’re wildly expensive, thus allowing only government-back initiatives are ever become undertaken.
Or course Elon Musk and The Boring Company have a solution for this.
Their plan is to re-invent the tunneling equation altogether with the invention of super efficient tunneling machines, them faster and cheaper to operate and per mile of tunnel drilled.
To accomplish this, their proprietary tunneling machines are capable of much more power, are more efficient, and are more durable than traditional boring machines, thus allowing more continuously operation and faster project turnarounds.
And the motor power these impressive machines? Well, obviously they’re electric.
As a proof of concept, a small test in Hawthorne, California has already been completed, the track runs for 1.14 miles and cost just $10 million to drill.
This equates to a drilling process 15 times faster than the traditional drills, and far cheaper.
If the results can be borne out through more testing, The Boring Company might prove itself economically viable for larger scale rollouts.
As with any forward thinking business that involves the use of public and private resources The Boring Company will have to deal with city / state / and federal regulations.
There’s a big question as to how such a grand vision will ever be approved through countless committees.
While many municipalities want to work with the Boring Company, unwinding the implications to current law is a daunting process.
Currently, all three major projects that have been announced are in the permitting and environmental review phase. One tunnel project, which was planned for Sepulveda Boulevard in California, has been stopped because of an environmental lawsuit. Despite this, numerous cities still contact Musk, hoping he will build a tunnel in their city. This combined with the Hawthorne tunnel shows that, while complex, the legal issues can be overcome.
With regulation questions swirling, the biggest implausibility is the proposed timeframe. Musk says he thinks the network can be operational by 2028, when LA is set to host the Olympics.
Given the complex challenges faced by the project this seems far too ambitious to pull off, however Musk is no stranger to defying the odds.
Summing It up
An underground system of roads, able to bypass the current congested infrastructure as envisioned by Elon Musk could be a huge benefit to traffic clogged cities like LA and Atlanta. If implemented on a large scale, it has the potential to revolutionize mass transport as we know it.
Like any large initiative, the devil is in the details, and the public and government will need ti