Elon Musk’s Underground Highway Is Now a Reality and It’s Going to Change the Way You Commute

Tino Caer
Tino Caer
Aug 11 · 5 min read
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A couple of days ago, the city of Las Vegas gave Elon Musk’s Boring Company the green light to begin the expansion of their underground highway system called “The Loop.” Musk and his team have ambitious plans for The Loop. Not only does Musk see it as the future of urban commuting, but he also believes that it will serve as the stepping stone for his other project, Hyperloop.

How does this loop work?

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A map of The Boring Company’s initial tunnel system in Los Angeles

Unlike a subway system, however, there are no actual trains inside of these loops. Instead, passengers are transported by what The Boring Company is calling AEVs (Autonomous Electric Vehicles). AEVs are currently exclusively Tesla vehicles, specifically the S, 3, and X model types. However, The Boring Company hopes to have custom Teslas with more spacious interiors. The cars run off of the same autonomous technology found in current Tesla vehicles and will not require human interaction to operate.

Scattered along the tunnels will be a myriad of stations. The Boring Company currently plans to support three types of stations: a surface station, a subsurface station, and an open-air station. The first two types of stations are pretty self-explanatory, but we really should be excited about the open-air station.

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A rendering of an open-air station

The Boring Company claims that open-air stations only need to take up the space of two parking spots. They hope that they can leverage these compact stations to allow for a large number of stops within an urban center. In Las Vegas, multiple casinos have already placed bids to have these open-air stations built in front of their properties. This means that we can provide access to more stops at more locations than with conventional subway stations.

Will this improve my commute?

More importantly, vehicles will not have to stop at each station. Since all passengers in one car will be heading to the same destination, it will not have to make unnecessary stops along the way. This helps make an already quicker commute even quicker. Subways that have to stop almost every couple of blocks will not be able to compete with such a system.

Goodbye rush-hour

The cost of using the Loop is also going to be very cheap. Elon Musk has claimed that prices will be at most the same as current subway prices ($2.75 in New York), but he hopes to drop the price down to just $1. You also get to ride in a spacious Tesla instead of a crammed subway… that sounds like a pretty good deal.

But aren’t tunnels slow to build?

Well, most of their time has been spent addressing this issue. The Boring Company already has the necessary vehicle technology, so the hard part has been figuring out how to build tunnels faster. They’ve made some great strides in this area, and their roadmap for future tunnel diggers holds some impressive stats. Their current generation of mining tools can dig up to one-mile a week. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but compared to the competition, which can dig a mile-long tunnel in eight to twelve weeks, it is leaps ahead. They also plan to build a tunnel digger that can dig out seven miles of tunnel per day!

They’ve not only made the digging process faster but also cheaper. The current Las Vegas tunnel system costs $50 million, and they claim that each mile of the tunnel will cost $10 million to build. That sounds like a lot of money, but consider that the MTA spent $4.45 billion for a two-mile-long tunnel. It is clear just how much cheaper The Loop is than traditional public transportation. So while we will not be seeing the rapid building of tunnels today, it is not hard to envision a future where seamlessly drilling new tunnels underneath cities will be a simple and common task.

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How The Boring Company deploys its tunnel diggers

Anyone who uses a public transportation system regularly knows that they’re pretty mediocre. They tend to be loud, dirty, and, worst of all, packed with too many people. The Boring Company’s new Loop system can revolutionize the way urbanites commute, providing faster, more comfortable, and cheaper commutes. The first Loop is supposed to open in only a couple of months in February of 2021. Maybe then we’ll be seeing a glimpse of the future of transportation.

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Tino Caer

Written by

Tino Caer

Student at the Grainger School of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Learn more at tinocaer.com

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +730K people. Follow to join our community.

Tino Caer

Written by

Tino Caer

Student at the Grainger School of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Learn more at tinocaer.com

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +730K people. Follow to join our community.

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