Elon Musk’s plan to integrate Tesla electric sleds traveling through underground tunnels dug by The Boring Company will also include support for vacuum-sealed tunnels used by 600+ mph Hyperloop Pods.
The reveal comes from the company’s newly published Frequently Asked Questions page that does away with introductions and cuts straight to the chase.
“A large network of road tunnels many levels deep would fix congestion in any city, no matter how large it grew (just keep adding levels). The key to making this work is increasing tunneling speed and dropping costs by a factor of 10 or more – this is the goal of The Boring Company. Fast to dig, low cost tunnels would also make Hyperloop adoption viable and enable rapid transit across densely populated regions, enabling travel from New York to Washington DC in less than 30 minutes.” reads the FAQ.
The company isn’t even traveling at a snail’s pace, yet it has big plans to do just that – dig tunnels faster than a snail travels. In this case, resident snail Gary (who lives in a pineapple
under the sea) can move at 14 times the speed of a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) and represents the target speed for the company’s boring machines.
The Framework for Hyperloop
The FAQ sheet broke news that Musk and the team at The Boring Company, in cooperation with Tesla, are planning to build tunnels that can support multi-payloads including that of a Hyperloop Pod. In addition to enabling travel and transport at much higher speeds, this addition is likely to set the Tesla electric sled platform as the standard track that will be used to support mobility of the Hyperloop Pod.
Certain segments of the underground tunnels will have a vacuum shell, if not the entire track, that will allow the tunnel to be held at vacuum. Long distance travel would likely be performed in tunnels held at vacuum, enabling for higher speeds of travel. This format of local versus long distance is the same used by train systems in Europe that have different trains and tracks depending on train speed and distance of travel.
Converts Internal Combustion Vehicles into EVs
Another upside of the system is that it enables the conversion of internal combustion vehicles into zero emission vehicles. When a traditional petroleum powered vehicle is moved onto an electric sled, it will be moved through a system that emits zero emissions. This eliminates the emissions these vehicles would have emitted if they would had ordinarily travelled by road to their destination.
Many people will take Hyperloop Pods to their destinations due to the lower cost of travel. Logistics companies will also shift payload transportation to the tunnel system due to the lower cost as a result of not having a driver, higher speed and automated control over the load. With all of this traffic moving to the conceptual tunnel-based transportation system, it has the potential to radically slash the amount of transportation related emissions and demand for fossil fuels.
If the petroleum industry wasn’t paying attention to Musk and the impact Tesla may have on automotive related fuel consumption, this announcement is surely the wake up call they needed.
Hollywood thrillers over the years have cast subway systems as the perfect set for apocalyptic thrillers where only a muscular hero armed with backpack full of lithium ion batteries, a stick of bubblegum and the copper from the wiring for the lights can save the day.
The truth, it turns out, is much different. The FAQs relay the facts that structural engineers have know for ages – that properly designed tunnels are one of the safest places to be during an earthquake. The tunnels is not subject to surface forces and instead of resisting the movement of the earthquake, moves with the ground.
When tunneling in the Minecraft video game, the tunnel materializes and the blocks smashed with a pickaxe or sword simply disappear or move into inventory. The real world is unfortunately not so simple, but The Boring Company has plans to make it just a bit more like Minecraft.
Two major challenges with traditional tunneling are the massive amount of earth being displaced by the tunnel and the equally as challenging amount of concrete that is required to seal the circumference of the tunnel. To solve these challenges together, The Boring Company hopes to develop a process for using the resulting soil to produce earthen bricks. These bricks could even be used as a component of the tunnel lining itself or simply sold as a product.
This is yet another piece of evidence that Tesla truly is attempting to create Minecraft in the real world, reviving the ancient practice of crafting bricks from dirt.
In addition to turning a liability into an asset, this has the potential to drastically cut the amount of concrete used in the production of the tunnels it is constructing. Because of the sheer mass of concrete and the effort required to extract its components, and ship them to the destination, concrete production accounts for a staggering 4.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The Boring Company hopes to take a chunk out of those emissions by using bricks where possible in the construction of its tunnels.
Where The Boring Company will go from here is anyone’s guess but this latest update makes it clear that Musk is never willing to settle for the status quo, and always begins working from the ground up – or in this case, from the ground down – when moving into a new business.