In the latest example of what’s old is new again, Elon Musk demonstrated a prototype of a high speed tunnel he believes could revolutionize vehicular traffic in cities.
Musk on Tuesday piloted a modified Tesla Model X electric car through his Boring Company’s 1.14-mile tunnel underneath Los Angeles.
“I thought it was epic,” said Musk as he described how he felt being whisked through the demonstration tunnel. “For me it was an epiphany, like ‘this thing damn well worked.’”
Frustrated by LA traffic, Musk founded the tunneling company two years ago. He believes high speed tunnels could be a solution to passenger and freight congestion.
The demonstration tunnel cost approximately $10 million to complete, and runs from a parking lot owned by Musk’s Space X rocket operator to a neighborhood about a mile away.
Members of the media reached speeds of 40 to 50 miles per hour in demonstration rides in Tesla Model X SUVs, which were equipped with retractable alignment wheels attached to the front wheels of the vehicle. The alignment wheels act as a bumper along the track walls inside the tunnel, keeping the vehicle aligned in the same manner as some amusement park rides. The non-rail transit mode also isn’t new – Canada’s Société de Transport de Montréal currently operates a rubber-tired subway network.
The test tunnel is still a prototype, and riders reported feeling the bumps during the demonstrations. But Musk already has seen his tunnels gain traction.
The Boring Co. in June signed a deal with the City of Chicago to develop twin 17-mile, high-speed tunnels between the downtown business district and O’Hare Airport. At the time Musk estimated it would take three years to dig the tunnel while breaking ground within three to four months, but the project has yet to receive government and regulatory approvals.
The Boring Company Loop system pic.twitter.com/xVpDHzZKXB
— The Boring Company (@boringcompany) December 19, 2018