Despite recent chatter about The Boring Company using its tunnels for Hyperloop technology, high profile venture capitalist and Tesla and SpaceX board member Steve Jurvetson says that building smaller, short-range tunnels for electric vehicle transport is a realistic project that could change the entire concept of tunneling.
An aspect of The Boring Company’s original plan was to create a tunnel infrastructure underneath cities as an electric vehicle super highway. A proposed system of underground tunnels, first envisioned by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, would utilize electric skates that could be lowered into the ground and zipped to a destination. Musk recently demonstrated a working proof of concept of the elevator that would be used to lower a Tesla into the underground tunnel.
The Boring Company’s specific mission was burrowing smaller, cost efficient tunnels to house these point-to-point local highways.
Jurveston said at TechCrunch’s Disrupt San Fransisco that this idea would be great for both The Boring Company and Musk to pursue, maybe even in lieu of Hyperloop technology implementation.
“I personally love the idea, in fact even more than the Hyperloop idea, of digging these tunnels,” Jurveston said. “The inside I think that’s so powerful is that if you only envision electric vehicles in your tunnels you don’t need to do the air handling for all carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, you know, basically pollutants for exhaust. You could have scrubbers and a variety of simpler things that make everything collapse to a smaller tunnel size, which dramatically lowers the cost … The whole concept of what you do with tunnels changes.”
The Boring Company said in early August that its tunnels would be used for Hyperloop technology, rivaling companies like Hyperloop One and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies. Rumors have swirled that Musk also wants to develop the Hyperloop from New York City to Washington, D.C., a system that would turn a 4-hour drive into a 29-minute ride.
Jurveston made a good point in the panel discussion, saying that by developing shorter highways first, The Boring Company would be able to “cut [its] teeth” before developing full scale, city-to-city Hyperloop technology.
“In the near term you do something incremental,” Jurveston said. “Thinking about small local links, that’s very compelling. The Hyperloop concept makes more sense when you’re commuting across a longer distance … to me that [Hyperloop routes] just feels like it comes later. You probably cut your teeth on the things The Boring company has shown, which is taking normal cars through a tunnel.”