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Transportation Businesses

Elon Musk Changes 'Boring Company' Vision To Reward Cyclists and Pedestrians (techcrunch.com) 152

"Remember Elon Musk's plan to dig a massive web of traffic-beating tunnels underneath Los Angeles...?" asks CNN. "Now, that plan appears to be getting a huge makeover." An anonymous reader quotes TechCrunch: While it will still focus on digging tunnels to provide a network of underground tubes suitable for use by high-speed Hyperloop pods, the plan now is to use that Hyperloop to transport pedestrians and cyclists first, and then only later to work on moving cars around underground to bypass traffic. Musk shared the update via Twitter, noting that the idea would be to load customers onto cars roughly the size that a single parking space takes up currently, [thousands of which] would be dotted around an urban environment close to any destinations where someone might travel. The single-car station model would be designed to replace the current subway-style model, Musk said, where only a few small stations are very spread out... This is a big departure from the original vision, and it seems like one that might have evolved after Musk and his collaborators on the project spoke to urban planners and transit authorities.
"If someone can't afford a car, they should go first," Musk posted on Twitter, sharing a new conceptual video where an elevator lowers one of these pedestrian- and cyclist-focussed shuttle pods underground.

TechCrunch says this new vision "would be appealing both to urban officials looking to decrease congestion on downtown roads and discourage personal vehicle use, and to anyone hoping to increase access to affordable transit options."
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Elon Musk Changes 'Boring Company' Vision To Reward Cyclists and Pedestrians

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  • ... put the bicycles and pedestrians underground. And when it turns out that this solves most of the traffic problems, leave the surface streets to the cars.

    • by fisted ( 2295862 )

      Except it doesn't because there are too many cars.

      • Except it doesn't because there are too many cars.

        Autonomous robo-taxis will solve that problem. It is silly to design the hyperloop for private cars when they will soon be fading away. Elon should focus on the future, not the past.

        1. Wake up at home in Rancho Cucamonga.
        2. Take a 5 minute ride in a robo-taxi from your home to the hyperloop terminal
        3. Zip to downtown LA at 600 km/hr
        4. Take another robo-taxi the last mile to your office.

        Number of minutes driving on the Santa Monica Freeway: 0.

      • Yes - the 'other guy' should walk or bike... that is why we have cities full of empty buses driving in circles and traffic squeezed to provide unused bike lanes...

        What is really strange is a lot of sidewalks are not used - yet they ban bikes. Mixing bikes and cars is just stupid.

    • And when it turns out that this solves most of the traffic problems

      No we won't need to. Because when you eliminate pedestrians and cyclists you'll also see unicorns returning to the world, and magical fairies giving us alternatives to the car problem.

      If you're going to live in an alternate reality at least make it a fun one.

    • by tsa ( 15680 )

      Because biking in a tunnel is a great way to exercise. You get fresh air, and if someone assaults you you can easily get away.

      Really, this is such a dumb idea I don't know where to begin.

      • by PPH ( 736903 )

        Really, this is such a dumb idea I don't know where to begin.

        Thank Elon Musk. It's his idea.

  • Afford vs want (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eastlight_jim ( 1070084 ) on Saturday March 10, 2018 @11:41AM (#56238895)

    "If someone can't afford a car, they should go first" - I love the insinuation that the only people who don't have a car are those that can't afford one. I quite often forget that Musk is an American but every now and then, he makes it super obvious.

    • ++

      If everyone had a hybris his size, we would need 17.4 universes just to fit them all in. ;-)
    • He's speaking specifically about his plan for Los Angeles, a city infamously devoid of non-car transit options. But yes, even there many people are unable or unwilling to drive for reasons other than cost.

      • Count me as one. Rented a car for the weekend for a work project, and while it is fun to wander outside my normal radius on a rainy day, I really hate driving.

        Somewhat ironically, I drove along the hyperloop track and past the falcon 9 booster at the SpaceX HQ with my automobile freedom today for inspiration.

    • Yeah, that's kinda presumptuous, even though I gotta admire the guy for his innovative ways to improve everything.

      I have an entire 3 story house (all paid for, no mortages...hah..brag brag), but NO CAR. And it's entirely by choice. My train is 10 minutes walk away from me, 3 grocery stores are 600-1000 meters away and takes tops 7-15 minutes to walk to for me.

      But sure - cost is also a factor, in Sweden where I live - (and I've owned cars before), it costs us roughly 50K SEK (roughly 6K USD) to own and opera

      • The problem is the USA are to dangerous (perceived):
        * you could be robbed
        * murdered
        * kidnapped

        You can not walk to the next super market because they only have paper backs, how would you carry your goods home?

        Friends of mine were in areas, 1000m walk to a super big super market: there was no food way to it, you could only go there by car.

        The country of the ridiculousness and they think the rest of the world should do it like they do. Facepalm.

        For the money I save not having a car, I can fly two times a year

        • The problem is the USA are to dangerous (perceived):
          * you could be robbed
          * murdered
          * kidnapped

          You can not walk to the next super market because they only have paper backs, how would you carry your goods home?)

          That probably depends on where you are in the U.S. America is big, and the few times I visited (Portland, Oregon)...was pretty big on easy commute, Tri-met (Max) easy to jump on and get around everywhere in the city, buses going to the smaller areas / coastal cities. I walked to Safeway pretty much every day to get my food and lived in a hostel for a month there, heard more gunshots in Sweden than over there.

    • Re:Afford vs want (Score:4, Insightful)

      by freeze128 ( 544774 ) on Saturday March 10, 2018 @12:32PM (#56239095)
      Musk is a South African. He just lives in America.
      • by haruchai ( 17472 )

        Musk is a South African. He just lives in America.

        The circumstances of Elon's life makes for very convenient denigration.
        He's a racist South African at times, a communist Canadian at others and an overbearing, blinkered American when it suits

      • Isn't Elon one of those people from shithole countries? [theguardian.com] that Trump wants banned?

        • by quenda ( 644621 )

          Isn't Elon one of those people from shithole countries? that Trump wants banned?

          Nope. South Africa, and some neighbouring countries, as well as North African countries, are far better places than El Salvador and Haiti.
          Not saying everything is awesome in SA, but there is really no comparison.

          After all the bullshit the Donald has said, why so much fuss over one of his more accurate observations? Importantly, he said it in private, not in public.

    • Why should people who can't afford cars go first? Should they go before pedestrians that can afford cars? Is Musk planning on asking each person if they can afford a car or not before letting them go first?
      • by Jeremi ( 14640 )

        C'mon, as programmers/engineers we should understand Elon's thought process here... it has nothing to with "who should go first" and everything to do with his dawning realization that digging large-diameter tunnels is hard and that it will be much more productive to start with a small tunnel and see how it goes before investing in digging a big tunnel.

        Elon (quite reasonably) wants to start small and work his way up, but (less reasonably) is pretending that he is scaling down for sociological/fairness reason

    • No... Actually, he's South African. I have no idea if he naturalized to US citizenship. They have a whole 'nother level of arrogance.

    • by Jeremi ( 14640 )

      Elon, my road bike is worth more than my car, you insensitive clod!

    • Good will shouldn't be attacked by asshole
    • It was a simple if/then statement with no insinuation whatsoever; you were just waiting for something to bitch about.
    • I love the insinuation that the only people who don't have a car are those that can't afford one.

      Well, the story's only slightly more complicated in L.A. [youtube.com].

    • Perhaps he meant what he said, if you canâ(TM)t afford, or if you are poor. You will have priority if you are on social welfare...

  • Excellent! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I'm happy to see that Elon Musk's vision is flexible. This indicates to me that maybe he does indeed want The Boring Company's work to benefit as many people as possible, and not just help himself and the rich "elites" dodge traffic as I've seen the Elon bashers insinuate.

    Now will his detractors applaud this move, or will they simply adjust their conspiracy theories and redouble their efforts?

    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      It's honestly not a dramatic shift. Loop has always been planned for both passenger and vehicle pods - both on the same drive platform, in the same tunnel. The only change here is the order in which the types of pods are introduced. It's not like the plan is going to be "introduce passenger pods, then sit around doing nothing until everyone in the city is using them, then introduce vehicle pods". It just means a 6-12 month difference in the order they're introduced, depending on the time to engineer the

      • The material change is that he understands the need for more stations now so that it doesn’t aggravate local traffic.

    • Or perhaps he got to talk to some engineers and the cost to be able to lift up/down cars and transport them through tubes is another row of zeros on the already ludicrously expensive proposal to dig tunnels everywhere.

      There is a reason there are no fully privatized or profit turning subways to be found anywhere.

  • by Mister Liberty ( 769145 ) on Saturday March 10, 2018 @12:06PM (#56238995)
    Capacity tends to get used; see the computer industry: 25 years ago 640k of memory seemed enough -- nowadays 16 gig seems to barely get things done.
    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Saturday March 10, 2018 @12:12PM (#56239029)

      Capacity tends to get used; see the computer industry: 25 years ago 640k of memory seemed enough -- nowadays 16 gig seems to barely get things done.

      No. Capacity only gets used when it is the limiting factor. We started using more RAM because RAM was limiting us from doing more. When every damn car on the road is already on the road then the limiting factor becomes something else and capacity won't increase any further. Kind of like how we're all perfectly happy with 5 year old CPUs now.

      • by haruchai ( 17472 )

        "Kind of like how we're all perfectly happy with 5 year old CPUs now"

        Who the fuck is "we"? I'm happy with my 4 yr old video card but am looking to upgrade my CPU and double my RAM.
        Quicker SSD wouldn't hurt but the one in my main machine is pretty good

        • Who the fuck is "we"?

          The vast majority of the users representing themselves in year on year fall in PC sales. The office workers who never peg their CPU. The gamers who figure $300 is better spent in most other components.

          I didn't say that there weren't use cases. But individuals don't affect societal planning.

          • by haruchai ( 17472 )

            "The office workers who never peg their CPU"

            Having supported quite a few of those "office workers" over the years, I can tell you that the various security programs put in place by enterprises to secure, restrict and monitor their users do a damn fine job of making such computers bog slow.

            "Year in year fall in PC sales" - despite all that doomcrying, sales are still roughly equivalent with 2007- 2008 and still over 200 million.
            Declining or not, that's still a lot of new PCs

    • by mikael ( 484 )

      It really depends on tax policies. In the UK, every business is taxed on how many strands of fibre-optic cable they have in use and how many kilometers long they are. That's pushed companies to implement faster bit-rates and multiple-wavelength technologies to get as much capacity out of a single strand as possible while there is still lots of dark fibre out there.

      http://app.voa.gov.uk/corporat... [voa.gov.uk]

      https://www.ispreview.co.uk/in... [ispreview.co.uk]

  • Chapter 11.

  • make sure everybody talks about traffic congestion and cyclists and nobody notices he just moved the goal post (either because their tech don't work or they don't have the money).
    • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Saturday March 10, 2018 @02:34PM (#56239695)

      nobody notices he just moved the goal post (either because their tech don't work or they don't have the money).

      Not sure what article you read, but this new plan means MORE stations, and MORE tunnels to provide access to the wider variety of entry points scattered around the city. Before it was just a handful of terminals at either end of a city.

      So the only implication one can possibly derive from this new plan is that tunneling is either easier or cheaper than originally thought (probably both).

      • So the only implication one can possibly derive from this new plan is that tunneling is either easier or cheaper than originally thought (probably both).

        No, another easily-drawn inference is that he’s discovered that a giant infrastructure project requiring vast swaths of underground right-of-way with the sole aim of benefiting a tiny number of well-off people was a political non-starter, but his ego won’t easily allow him to let it simply die.

        This pivot on his part just turns this into another spin on subways and light rail - just replace “pod” with “car” - in which case he needs to explain why he thinks this would be be

        • No, another easily-drawn inference is that heâ(TM)s discovered that a giant infrastructure project requiring vast swaths of underground right-of-way with the sole aim of benefiting a tiny number of well-off people was a political

          I think you've accidentally stumbled on the truth here, but not in the way you think.

          Benefitting rich people in California has never been an issue, the entire state is pretty much founded on that ideology. So we can quickly discard that as being an issue.

          No, indeed, costs or

          • by mentil ( 1748130 )

            I think YOU accidentally stumbled across the truth, but not in the way you think. Going to many different districts instead of going between only a few means many more places giving subsidies to construction/operation. The same thing happened with rail lines long ago.

      • by mikael ( 484 )

        Going by the tunneling work in London, once you have one of those tunnel boring machine underground, they can excavate and line with concrete 500 meters of tunnel each day using just 20 people.

        http://www.crossrail.co.uk/con... [crossrail.co.uk]

  • by anvilmark ( 259376 ) on Saturday March 10, 2018 @12:21PM (#56239057)

    One of my biggest complaints about mass transit is that it's inconvenient on both ends. If this is fast, pods leave frequently, and I only have to walk a couple blocks on both ends it, why would I drive even if I owned a car?.

  • by ebrandsberg ( 75344 ) on Saturday March 10, 2018 @12:38PM (#56239129)

    If hyperloop is going to be used for short transit trips for pedestrians and bikes, the overhead of having a vacuum enclosed space, with pods shooting around begs the question--can't we just build the tunnels and build a setup that uses something like a segway or personal vehicle on a small track to get your around to your destination? It seems this would have much a much smaller failure impact (people can still walk in the tunnels) and would require far less investment in technology and upfront cost to build.

    • How many people do you know that like to walk, bike in a tunnel, 30m below the surface for 500m or 1500m?
      I only know one, me. I would do that once for the giggles but not as typical means of going from A to B.

      • For pleasure, probably not as much, except perhaps as a novelty as you mentioned.

        For transportation, however, it would be great. Don't have to worry about bad weather - granted not as big of an issue in LA, but in the midwest, don't have to worry about snow and ice in the winter, or hot and humid days in the summer - presumably the temperature in the tunnels would be relatively constant probably around 60 degrees or so. For biking, the tunnels would be relatively level with no steep hills which would also

    • by mentil ( 1748130 )

      Pedestrians and Segway riders aren't likely to make it to their destination if they're walking/riding in an air-evacuated tunnel. I agree this will solve the congestion problem, though.

    • by spitzak ( 4019 )

      There are lots of problems and questions with his idea, but even I know this is different from the hyperloop. The pods will not be travelling very fast and there is no vacuum.

  • Of course, they'll only be used to transport children and impoverished people. Until they get approval and a network in place. Then they'll be converted to luxury use, because the market demands it.

    And then that will be abandoned in favor of some sort of self-driving electric vehicle you can purchase.

  • This idea actually makes a lot of sense. The ultimate goal for driverless cars is an autonomous on-demand transport system. The biggest impediment to doing that right now is that the driverless cars have to work with existing road infrastructure and human drivers. This is a complicated problem and it is really the reason why autonomous cars are still some way from being viable. If we just wanted to build some autonomous cars that can only go around on a set of 'rails' physically separated from the public, t

  • I find it amusing that Slashdot, of all places, does not see the obvious evil genius angle on this.

    The "feedback" obtained was obviously that Tesla owners do not want to go underground like mole people, where few will be able to admire the cars.

    So what do do? Flip it! Send all of the people who might otherwise clog up the streets with non Tesla cars and buses, leaving the streets to mostly Teslas and a few stragglers. Right next to every people loading station will be a Tesla charging and wash station so

  • by Anonymous Coward

    As soon as someone doing the same thing names their company "Interesting Company," Musk is toast.

  • This makes a lot of sense, in hindsight. For Boring to be useful to vehicles, you'd need to start with a minimum 10KM track (hand-waving) for the large cities that would even consider this - and that would get you a single direction in and out of the centre of a city, if you need to go south instead of north, your SOL. For this to be useful for pedestrians though, 4KM of tunnels would get you a few different paths in the core part of town where it's just a bit too far away from a subway station. Much easie

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This seems like fake news. The time of a trip includes loading and unloading as well as transit time between points. Even if the purchase of a ticket is done electronically, and each car is fully loaded, how exactly do you get that car from point A to point B at hypersonic speeds? You don't as far as I can see. A hypersonic tunnel (if it can be built at all) would be tremendously expensive (one place you wouldn't put them would be in active seismic zones). You still have to accelerate and decelerate the veh

  • Distraction (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jodka ( 520060 ) on Saturday March 10, 2018 @04:32PM (#56240097)

    Musk does this honest bullshit thing sometimes; What he says is factually correct, but his statements play on human psychology to distract from his true motives and concerns. Here are some examples:

    - Launching the roadster into space. Really, he might have been wary of lifting off the first prototype of Falcon Heavy with a full capacity load and wanted to fly with a much lighter test mass. A light test mass would look weak. So he flew the roadster. A car in space! Wow! Everyone was so distracted by a car in space that nobody thought to ask so hey, what's wrong with this thing that you are not flying it at even close to full weight capacity?

    - Gwynne Shotwell, President and CEO of SpaceX. Musk is never going to find an equal proportion of highly qualified man and women engineers to staff SpaceX because colleges and universities do not graduate them in equal proportion. So he finds one super-competent woman and gives her the two most prominent jobs in the company to distract for the skewed gender ratio among top engineers.

    - Prioritizing people and bicycles over cars in his Boring Co tunnels. Well, someone probably ran the numbers and found something out. Like that you can't run internal combustion engine cars through these things because of the exhaust CO and yet the number of electric cars on the road will not be enough pay for the tunnel until decades from now. So what does Musk say? "Errr, sorry everyone, I was wrong, car plan is not going to work now. Sucks" Nope. Instead that, in the interests of courtesy and fairness, the people and bikes get priority. With no mention whatsoever of any technical or financial flaws with his car skid plan, despite those probably being the determining concerns.

    - The electric semi and next-gen roadster reveal were timed to coincide with the worst of the model 3 manufacturing hell. The effect was to distract from the failure to meet announced production rates.

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Sunday March 11, 2018 @07:51AM (#56242121)

      As the title says, but I'll get to that. First a bit of devils advocate:

      Launching the roadster into space

      Marketing, nothing more. The only people who think this is a distraction from the fact that the Falcon Heavy wasn't loaded at full capacity have never done a project before. You never flick the switch to 100% and hit the GO button on your first startup. It doesn't matter if you're designing a spaceship, a nuclear power plant or building a new kind of smartwatch.

      Gwynne Shotwell

      Yes there's a problem with how the Universities are cranking out graduates. That doesn't make what Musk is doing a distraction. If anything this is THE SINGLE BEST WAY to turn around the industry. Why would women chose STEM if there are no role models for success? He can't fix the skewing due to the underlying issues in society, so he's attempting to portray the power of women. This is more common sense than anything most other companies have come up with.

      Prioritizing people and bicycles over cars in his Boring Co tunnels

      You do realise this entire concept is in early stages of front end loading right? At this point there's still all sorts of ideas floating around. Finding a different way that may suit the original goal of the project (making money through a new form of mass transit) doesn't mean the original way didn't work, wasn't profitable, or wasn't technically feasible. This isn't a government project where you start at the conclusion and work backwards, it's a private company which generally means that projects look for the best possible outcome, even if that outcome isn't moving cars around.

      Electric Semi

      Well there's two things here, Firstly the Model 3 production shortfall was far worse several months before the semi was announced and had pretty much already been done to death in the media, and secondly these products don't just appear out of nowhere. This semi is clearly something that had a lot of engineering already completed. Why would you delay the announcement of your cool new shiny just because of some teething problems on a completely different product line?

      Now back to Musk not having a clue
      The thing that separates Musk and his companies from others is that he is comfortable with not having a clue. He is basically shaking up everything he touches in ways that people consistently say won't work. The end result may not be that each of his companies has blasted into profitability, but rather the result has had an incredible effect on the industry and society as a whole. He doesn't know what he's doing because no one has done the things he's doing. That ultimately means that some things aren't going to pan out.

      Whenever you see someone like Musk failing at something or get criticised for not knowing what he's doing it's worth remembering these two statistics:
      1. 95% of start-ups fail to get off the ground.
      2. 90% of businesses even using established and traditional methods in normal industries fail in the first 2 years.
      And these two say nothing of the number of companies that manage to change the course of entire industries.

  • Canadian writer here. Poor urban planning is the reason we have traffic congestion in the first place. It's the reason I need a car. It's there reason I consume much of my energy. In Ottawa, Canada, a four bedroom house where I can walk to work and walk to a store is 1.3 million CAD. Same house plus a yard, in the suburbs is $350,000 CAD. No one in my neighbourhood uses their yard except to pile the snow from our driveways. Based on the prices of houses, most people would like to live packed together
  • How do the flamethrowers figure into this vision?

  • Putting one car on another car is pretty silly.

    If there were self-driving taxis passengers could transfer to them (a different one, think hard in case the idea of using more than one car on a trip somehow is difficult for your little brain...) at each end. And in a lot of cases the trip on one end or another would be so short that a bicycle or walking would be faster. It does seem to me that some bicycles will fit in a box designed for humans so it is kind of ok to carry these vehicles with you. Electric sc

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