With the hot topic of urban mobility on everyone’s minds, one influential figure is now exploring the potential of his latest innovation – underground roads. Elon Musk has announced a futuristic vision of transportation involving underground roadway systems beneath bustling cities such as Los Angeles. The founder of Tesla and Space X said that he was inspired to consider a tunnel system to alleviate congestion because he found being stuck in traffic "soul-destroying". Hoping to make the venture turn into a reality is ‘The Boring Company’, which will rely on a vast network of tunnels (hence ‘boring’). In March 2017, Musk announced that sometime in April the company will start using a digging machine to begin digging a usable tunnel at SpaceX. At the end of April 2017, a tunnel digging machine was seen at SpaceX with the company's name on the side. But Musk said the Boring Company was taking only "two or three percent" of his time. Interns and Tesla employees are working part-time on the project.
"If you think of tunnels going 10, 20, 30 layers deep (or more), it is obvious that going 3D down will encompass the needs of any city’s transport of arbitrary size," according to Musk.
The Boring Company is an infrastructure and tunneling company founded by Musk in late 2016, after he first mentioned the idea on his Twitter account. Musk cited difficulty with Los Angeles traffic and limitations with the current 2D transportation network as inspiration for the project. As of February 2017, the company has begun digging a 30 foot wide, 50 foot long, and 15 foot deep "test trench" on the premises of Space X's offices in Los Angeles, since construction on its site requires no permits. According to Musk himself, the company's goal is to enhance tunneling speed enough such that establishing an underground network of tunnels is financially feasible.
The ‘game changer’ appears in the form of a futuristic metal elevator that lowers the Tesla underground to a road network in which individual cars are transported at high speeds on metal trolley-like platforms between destinations – doing away with traffic and associated collisions.
Traditionally, tunnels are designed to integrate a large amount of safety equipment. Elon’s proposal, in which cars are propelled forward by electric trolleys, renders much of this safety equipment unnecessary. The absence of the risk of petrol and diesel vehicle emissions, the autonomous control of the vehicles, and the need for increased power supply for such a network represents a paradigm shift in terms of the design of tunnels. In addition, specialised electronic equipment such as high speed trolleys will need to be designed and tested as well as corresponding intelligent control equipment/systems. Reduced tunnel size will also reduce costs and speed up construction – all highlighting a need to rethink traditional design.
“Musk’s futuristic tunnel system is ambitious and innovative. Going underground makes sense and many cities have vast tunnel networks beneath heavily populated areas, for example, the London Underground – so we know it can work. His vision presents an exciting alternative to our gridlocked present,” comments Aurecon Tunnelling Expert, Tom Ireland.
What do you think about this? The future or hypothetical nonsense? Let us know below in the comments section.
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