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Transportation United States

Elon Musk's First LA Tunnel Nears Completion, With Free Rides To Kick Off This Summer (newatlas.com) 148

The Boring Company has made some pretty impressive strides in its relatively short existence. Elon Musk first shared his vision for the company in December 2016, promising to solve traffic woes with networks of tunnels for city centers. It is now adding the finishing touches to its first burrow. From a report: In a video shared on Instagram today, Musk showed what a trip through one of these tunnels would look like. He also declared the Boring Company's first tunnel under LA to be almost complete, and that "pending final regulatory approvals, we will be offering free rides to the public in a few months."

Elon Musk's First LA Tunnel Nears Completion, With Free Rides To Kick Off This Summer

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...makes another claim no-one sane would believe, but the press and tech illiterates eat up.

    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      Um... there's a video of the tunnel. Is that CG?

      I understand that some people are conspiracy theorists, but this is getting ridiculous.

      • He bought a used tunneling machine and built a tunnel. So what. That's like a minor plot device in a pointless George Clooney movie.

        Point is, Elon Musk (like the smell from your ass) could tweet about assemlbing an ikea bookshelf and his fans would go apeshit. Christ, he does actual interesting shit (Space X), why do you need to suck his cock over boring shit like this?

    • ...makes another claim no-one sane would believe, but the press and tech illiterates eat up.

      Not sure what claim you are referring to. If you mean his claim that he will build a deep level subway [= underground railway] under a city, then there is no reason to disbelieve it considering that such railways were first built over 100 years ago (over 150 years ago if you include the shallow cut and cover method) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]. It is established technology.

      But Musk's tunnels are tiny, as are the "trains" - single pods that will each carry only a few people (or a car I gather). The c

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You mean like the claim to deliver an EV with 320 miles of range for $50K?
      Or the claim that he would launch a rocket, land it vertically and then relaunch the same rocket?

      You mean claims like those?

      You can hate on Musk until you're blue in the face, but the fact it, the man delivers. In fact, his company just delivered a Model 3 to my house last week. And just 15 minutes ago I saw ANOTHER Space X rocket launch from the Cape. Not on TV. I walked outside my house and looked at the sky.

      Seriously, get your h

      • According to this [caranddriver.com], you cannot buy a sub-$50K Tesla that has 320 miles of range. They start at just above $50K, and that model has closer to 200 miles of range.
  • The construction of this tunnel seems to be moving at an incredible pace. How is it going so fast?
    • I read the article...

      Is this just another subway (but smaller) or is it like a ferry where you park you car it takes you across town?

      • More like a single subway car. It would be all passenger, but a large number of cars, so limited waiting, and depending on when you read the description they would be on call.
      • Re:That was fast! (Score:5, Informative)

        by Rei ( 128717 ) on Friday May 11, 2018 @12:15PM (#56596206) Homepage

        It depends on what you mean by "this". This was their first prototype tunnel, working to develop their boring tech (the whole point of Boring Company is to get TBM speeds up and costs down by 1/2 to 1 order of magnitude). It's just a tunnel. They'll also be testing out their first Loop vehicles in it. Since it's just one leg, they'll just go from one end to the other.

        Now, as mentioned, this tunnel is just a prototype. It's to be extended to form an LA Loop system, they're getting started on a NY/DC Loop system right now, bidding for a Chicago Loop system, and planning to start a LA/SF Hyperloop system later this year (confirmed by Musk last night - with the interesting addendum that they have a straightforward way to branch in and out of the Hyperloop tunnels to serve smaller cities en route).

        Loop is underground PRT (Personal Rapid Transit). Relatively small vehicles take either people or cars. People generally - and cars always - go directly to their destination, rather than on fixed routes. At peak traffic times, passenger capsules get routed to optimal paths with a few stops on each end that group together people going from and to the same general areas (ala Uber Pool). Underground, the main routes are limited access (like highways); there's never any stopping or significant slowing down / speeding up in them. Feeder tunnels branch on and off (again, akin to a highway system rather than a subway system). Control is 100% automated. Access to and from the surface is from numerous small pod elevator shafts rather than fewer, larger stations; the surface footprint is 1-2 parking spaces per shaft (the surface footprint use is justified by how many vehicles it takes off the roads - even when people travel by car, as they're off all of the roads between the start and end of their journey).

        Hyperloop is a low-pressure variant of Loop, designed for near-supersonic speeds (and with the potential to operate in environments with higher speeds of sound as well). Several orders of magnitude lower pressure than atmosphere, many orders of magnitude higher pressure than a hard vacuum (and thus several orders of magnitude easier to maintain the reduced pressure, per unit surface area). Some air in the tubes is essential, at least to the "true" Hyperloop proposal (Hyperloop Alpha; there are now lots of other things calling themselves "Hyperloop" that are just maglev vactrains). In the HA design, the vehicles are suspended by air bearings (like an air hockey puck or hard drive platter), which is comparable to maglev in terms of energy losses. The air bearings are fed by a battery powered, water-cooled compressor, which also shunts the air ahead of the vehicle past it (preventing it from building up a high pressure zone ahead of it). Acceleration is provided by short accelerator segments. Wheels propel the craft at low speeds (akin to Loop) and in emergencies. (And to head people off, yes, Thunderf00t the Biochemist-Pretending-To-Be-An-Engineer does not know what he's talking about [youtube.com])

        For anyone who's curious as to what's actually proposed in Hyperloop Alpha, and what's been addressed, Link [spacex.com]. Note that this document is several years old, so there's plenty of work that's been done since then. This predated Boring Company, so boring costs were estimated at then-current (much higher) rates, and thus boring segments were minimized. They also had to stop the route on the edges of town (like an airport) to save money, as this also predated Loop.

        • So what exactly are they doing to reduce TBM costs? to me this is the most interesting part and I haven't seen any real explanation of how they are hoping to achieve this.
          • The only thing I remember hearing about specifically was making smaller tunnels. Smaller tunnels require removing a lot less material, and also mean having to use less material to line the tunnel. With a focus on faster transport and using the available space efficiently they should be able to get throughput as good or better than the traditional large tunnels.

            • by Rei ( 128717 )

              That's one thing of many. Most focus on the cutting head speed, which is limited at present by the balance between cutting disc temperature and their wear rate. Boring Company is working to address this with more modern alloys on the cutting discs and a more elaborate cooling system for them. Wear rate also has to be minimized normally because swapping out discs requires stopping the head. Boring Company is working to make them hot swappable, so it's not as critical that they last as long. Downtime is n

              • I am surprised that the cutting wheels are not hot swappable, but from what I can see from images it looks like most of them are attached directly to the head rather than having individual mounts. I wonder if it would be possible to design the system so that there were multiple heads that alternated service, giving one set time to cool while another was digging?
            • Smaller tunnels require removing a lot less material, and also mean having to use less material to line the tunnel.

              Brilliant. Why did no-one else think of that? Let's have 2ft diameter tunnels and fit people along them lengthways.

              With a focus on faster transport and using the available space efficiently they should be able to get throughput as good or better than the traditional large tunnels.

              You are not going to fill space more efficiently than existing subways. London Underground trains (with which I am familiar) almost scrape their tunnels (and really do occasionally) and the passengers are jam-packed inside at peak times.
              http://www.londontravelwatch.o... [londontravelwatch.org.uk]
              http://mkshft.org/observed-cro... [mkshft.org]

              To beat the London Underground, Musk's Loop will need to be able to move over 40,000 passen

              • It doesn't have to beat London's underground. It just has to be faster than the 405 at rush hour.

          • by Alien7 ( 310889 )

            Bust unions and then pay employees half as much, at least that's what Elon's got to is.

        • Loop is underground PRT (Personal Rapid Transit). Relatively small vehicles take either people or cars. People generally - and cars always - go directly to their destination, rather than on fixed routes..

          The capacity is going to be tiny, especially with cars (probably with a single occupant) occupying some of the vehicles. As for not being fixed routes, I think you will find that tunnels are pretty fixed, and fixed routes has always been a drawback with railways, which is what this is, although I know Americans hate the word.

          At peak traffic times, passenger capsules get routed to optimal paths with a few stops on each end that group together people going from and to the same general areas ... Access to and from the surface is from numerous small pod elevator shafts rather than fewer, larger stations

          If there are going to be numerous stations (your elevator shafts), you are going to be waiting around for some time to collect enough people going to the same destination or near it to

          • by Rei ( 128717 )

            The capacity is going to be tiny, especially with cars (probably with a single occupant) occupying some of the vehicles.

            Please go back and re-read, particularly the part up to "UberPool".

            As for not being fixed routes, I think you will find that tunnels are pretty fixed

            No more fixed than roads. A typical subway system may have a dozen or so intersections between lines in a city, depending on the size. This will have thousands.

            and fixed routes has always been a drawback with railways, which is what this is,

        • many orders of magnitude higher pressure than a hard vacuum

          Can the difference between zero and [any figure over zero] ever be measured in meaningful 'orders of magnitude?'

      • It looks like a little subway to me, which makes sense. You do not need to dig a wide tunnel if you use a smaller vehicle with circular section instead of a subway train, and take all your passengers sitting or semi-lying in several smaller vehicles rather than just a large one (the train). And you can dig a narrow tunnel faster than a wide one.
    • Re:That was fast! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Friday May 11, 2018 @11:38AM (#56595958)

      It's pretty short... it was 500 feet in October (so maybe double that now). He keeps drawing hockey stick growth curves for length (a few miles in a few months, 20 in the next year), but he also said Tesla was going to be cranking out 5k cars/week a year ago.

      It may get there, but it's going to be a slower uptake than he claims.

      • Re:That was fast! (Score:5, Informative)

        by Rei ( 128717 ) on Friday May 11, 2018 @12:21PM (#56596254) Homepage

        It's pretty short... it was 500 feet in October (so maybe double that now). He keeps drawing hockey stick growth curves for length (a few miles in a few months, 20 in the next year), but he also said Tesla was going to be cranking out 5k cars/week a year ago.

        That's a rather poor analogy choice. Yes, Model 3 production is late, but it is following a hockey stick growth. Through Q4, production averaged a couple hundred per week. Through most of Q1 it was at 1k/wk. At the end of Q1 it jumped to 2k/wk. Now they're hitting 3k/wk not even half a quarter later.

        General rule with Musk projects: Increase estimated timelines by roughly 20-100%, depending on the project and how far ahead you're talking; he always sets ridiculously short timelines for himself. But he generally delivers in the end.

        • General rule with Musk projects: Increase estimated timelines by roughly 20-100%, depending on the project and how far ahead you're talking; he always sets ridiculously short timelines for himself. But he generally delivers in the end.

          People love to complain about Musk's timelines. But put things into perspective. SpaceShipTwo [wikipedia.org] is still under development. We're still waiting for a mid-engine [wikipedia.org] Corvette. [autoblog.com]

          • by Rei ( 128717 )

            Wow, I forgot all about SpaceShipTwo. They're still working on that thing?

        • That's a rather poor analogy choice.

          It was an deliberate choice. Model 3 doesn't seem to be following a hockey stick. Maybe a linear growth curve.

          And yes, it's late. That was kind of my point.

    • The construction of this tunnel seems to be moving at an incredible pace. How is it going so fast?

      Actually, it really wasn't that fast. The tunneling started about a year ago. [theverge.com]

    • The construction of this tunnel seems to be moving at an incredible pace. How is it going so fast?

      Look at how small it is. A typical subway train tunnel is triple that diameter. The worker at the end of the video can barely stand up without bumping his head and that's no even on a rail car with wheel undercarriage. The main way they're making this one quickly is because it will be a mini-subway. Getting in and out will be stepping down into it and sitting only while the carriage roof doubles as the door. Which I guess means the real question is how it will be ADA compliant.

      • Look at how small it is. A typical subway train tunnel is triple that diameter.

        That's one of the ways they are speeding up construction. [boringcompany.com] The amount of material that needs to be removed increases by the square of the diameter.

        Getting in and out will be stepping down into it and sitting only while the carriage roof doubles as the door. Which I guess means the real question is how it will be ADA compliant.

        Getting in and out of the "skate" will be done on the surface, where there is more room. I'm more concerned with emergency exits.

    • He took half of the employees who are supposed to be building the Tesla 3's and made them dig this silly hole, instead.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    People who think BART is claustrophobic will be in for a rude awakening.

  • I find more and more sites display a popup window telling me I need to turn off my ad blocker... when I don't use one. Hell, the dialog box is blocking some of the ads. Unfortunately, there is no button for "I'm not using an adblocker" so they don't get the message. It sure would be nice if they tested their own sites. I am almost certain that the problem is with the "do not track" options.

    • Re:ad blockers (Score:5, Informative)

      by Bradmont ( 513167 ) on Friday May 11, 2018 @11:58AM (#56596094)
      Try opening the page in Firefox, then click the little reader mode button in the address bar. Honestly, reader mode is the best feature in any web browser at the moment...
    • by doom ( 14564 )
      There are pop-ups everywhere, for every damn thing imaginable-- they're always bugging you to sign up for a mailing list or some damn thing. The current generation of site designers seems to feel no site is complete without an annoying JS popup. I've essentially stopped trying to read anything at medium.com because they keep bugging me to do something.
    • Well, the absolutely delicious irony is that if you were using an ad blocker, you'd be able to block that overlay. My guess is that the do-not-track disables some JS, and that's likely what's causing the issue, or you otherwise block JS from running.

  • until the subsidies dry up or the cost and complexity of implementing at scale slap the project back into reality. Then Musk will get 'bored' and move onto the next distraction. Musk is not a visionary, he just has the internet jackpot fortune to kickstart his adolescent fantasies far enough to get press adulation.

    "A subterranean commuter expressway. I'll call it a 'Sub-Way'. Why didn't anyone think of this before? I'm brilliant!"

    All of his ventures operate at loss or through subsidy or in unique markets w

  • Preeeetty sure that's just footage from Sewer Shark [wikipedia.org]. This is fake news.

    Long live the Sega CD!
  • ...then by now, after decades of building roads, Los Angeles would be traffic free! But maybe it will work this time.

    • I guess it's not common knowledge, but since the disassembling of the Red Cars, various local interests and property owners killed the plans for almost half of the freeways that were originally intended to have been built to take up the slack. And that was before the greater metropolitan area had 9 million residents with an average of 2 vehicles per person.

  • I call them beta testers. However if something goes wrong it's not the kind of crash you expect.
  • by k6mfw ( 1182893 ) on Friday May 11, 2018 @02:28PM (#56597202)

    Wednesday I attended IEEE-SCV CES meeting where Dennis Ratcliffe presented VTA/BART extension to and under downtown San Jose. The game changer is the single bore tunnel digging, a technique that is new for underground subways. Contrast to the cut-and-cover used for LA Metro and for BART on Market st in 1960s (Dennis said it took 35 years for SF to economically recover from that). They can proceed boring a tunnel under downtown SJ without disrupting downtown. This was done in Barcelona so SJ will not be the first, however, many other cities are looking at how this will proceed.

    Another game changer is a single rich guy (single as in not slaved to stock market share holders) who can plunk down a billion dollars and say "build it." Musk still needs to comply with regulatory matters but he doesn't have to deal with bureaucratic tussles to get money. Dennis Ratcliffe said in 2001 when extension was conceived, VTA had to come up with the money to pay for BART extension (guess all the politics in this one). There are funds from Federal Transit Administration but they delayed funding Phase 2 until VTA/BART completes Phase 1. And when this began economy took a dump so all that forecasted tax revenue decreased. But they slowly got moving and economy improved. However, it took a dump again in 2008 (but real estate got cheap so VTA bought property for stations). Elon simply tells his people to start digging on his property. I haven't looked at details but he probably funded others to build smaller and more tailored boring machine than what VTA/BART is using.

    Single bore tunneling is not new except for subways. This provides option for many cities, the race may be will it be done by public agencies or by private companies.

    Elon Musk can sim

    • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )
      ignore that last sentence (leftover from draft)
    • Though single bore might be new, boring in general is not. A significant part of the DC metro was bored, including 11 stations.
      • All the underground stretches of Seattle’s Link have been bored as well. I think when people say “new” here they mean “fairly recently has become mainstream”, not “this is the first time”.

        On a side note, I’m curious to see what Musk’s throwaway “few months” comment actually translates into. It seems like someone else turned that into “this summer” by pulling it out of his nether regions. I realize that’s a very small tunnel,

      • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )
        Also what is new is boring into soils previously too difficult. London has perfect clay soil for boring. San Jose tunnel will be below water table so boring machine has to deal with that (pressurizing). And this gives other cities options, plus Musk's team demonstrating actual working hardware like his other team showed a reusable rocket (this gets people's attention).
    • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )
      article by Dennis Ratcliffe on "Can Single-Bore Tunneling Transform Urban Subway Construction?"
      http://www.vta.org/News-and-Me... [vta.org]
    • The problem with tunnel bores like this is it creates the need for escalators or high capacity elevators. The cut and cover method results in something that people can just walk down 2-3 flights of stairs to get to stations. The time from surface to platform is much lower with the "old" stations.

      It would be far better if cities took the "temporary pain for permanent improvement" approach and continued with cut and cover. Yes pipes and cables will need to be moved.

      There's also the emergency evacuation con

  • I've seen some properties with mesas on them that I'd like to bore some passages through.

    -jcr

  • Seriously, this could be interesting. If that is able to run under ground at speeds of say 60-180 MPH, this would make a huge difference in city transportation.
    One thing about Musk, is he is changing society for the better.
    • Yeah, he is doing things that normal people would have been discouraged from doing a long time ago.

      And if he gets this really going, the hyperloop would make traveling between big cities happen much faster.

  • I had a look at the pictures and they've clearly just been knocked up in photoshop.

    If his bogus company truly was putting the "finishing touches" to a tunnel, then he wouldn't have to do that or put another 'imagineered' video up on Instagram because a real video would be impressive enough!

    He would also tell us where exactly the tunnel goes from and to.

    I've had enough of this scam artists bollocks. He should be thrown in prison; which I think he will be in the not too distant future.

    • by linuxguy ( 98493 )

      "I've had enough of this scam artists bollocks."

      I can't tell if you are joking or serious.

      The scam artist has been building electric cars and rockets for years. The real things. Do you know any other scam artists doing that?

      • I can't tell if you are joking or serious.

        The scam artist has been building electric cars and rockets for years. The real things. Do you know any other scam artists doing that?

        He has built less cars than Ferrari have in the same time and his production line is always just "...6 months away from producing <insert ludicrous figure> cars". The other differences between Tesla and Ferrari is that the cars Ferrari build is not done at a thundering loss and nor are they dishonestly pitched to customers

      • Have some understanding. If you were born and raised in the back woods of Kentucky, you would have trouble believing electric cars really exist, too.

  • A fast tunnel bore is about 60 feet per day. He's claiming 13 MILES in 1 year; that would be about 200+ feet per day. I guess Musk is - once again - over-promising, and under-delivering. But that makes sense - an issue with Tesla came up, so time to pop out comments about another adventure to distract the masses!

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