Do you love rollercoasters? Is skydiving on your bucket list? Well, here’s another item to add to your repertoire of exhilarating accomplishments: a 150 mile per hour ride in the Boring Company’s loop. The Loop, a “personalized mass transit” system that carries 16 people, would cost you only $1 for the once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk made the Loop announcement at the Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles to 750 audience members. Probably not coincidentally, that setting is adjacent to the I-405 freeway, alongside which the 2.7 miles of loop tunnel will run north to south.
— TechCrunch (@TechCrunch) May 18, 2018
The trip from downtown Los Angeles to Los Angeles International Airport would take 8 minutes in a vacuum tube. “It’s the only way we can think of to address the chronic traffic issues in major cities,” Musk said at the event. He added that over the 16 years he’s lived in Los Angeles, the 405 freeway “varied between the seventh and eight levels of hell” and blamed the event’s delayed start on traffic.
The privately funded project is not intended to be utilized for public transportation, and Musk did not outline a timeframe for completion. Funding for the project has been, shall we say, avante garde — the company raised $7.5 million selling $500 flamethrowers bearing the company logo, with anticipated delivery sometime this spring. Musk also mentioned company plans to sell large Lego-like bricks made from bored rocks. “They’re really good bricks,” he said. The crowd at the Leo Baeck Temple laughed politely, not really sure if Musk was serious or not.
Musk tweeted a week ago that his first tunnel in Los Angeles is nearly completed.
But The Boring Company is right behind you at 1/15th your speed & soon will be 1/10th! Start sweating …
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 18, 2018
The Hyperloop vs. the Loop
As early as 2013, Musk began to express his disappointment that California would “build a bullet train that is both one of the most expensive per mile and one of the slowest in the world.” He translated his ennui into a list of what he determined to be more appealing alternatives. At that time, he offered three options: some enlarged version of pneumatic tubes with very powerful fans to push air at high speed; a hard or near hard vacuum in the tube and then using an electromagnetic suspension; or, a low pressure system set to a level where standard commercial pumps could overcome an air leak and transport pods could handle variable air density.
The Hyperloop evolved in concept to become a transportation option that would ferry people or objects in tubes traveling at airline speeds but at a lower cost than air travel. Ultimately, Musk outsourced the grand idea of a cross-country “Hyperloop” system and let startups run with the idea. “The company currently provides these services to innovators and universities across the world interested in high-speed transportation technology and solutions,” the company describes on its SpaceX website.
Musk created the The Boring Company, which starting boring vast underground tunnels in Los Angeles in 2017. Since then, Musk has explained that the Boring Company actually is involved in proposed Hyperloop projects, including one for the US east coast. Indeed, last year, the Boring Company received approval to build a Hyperloop between New York and Washington, DC, signaling his intentions to return to active participation in the Hyperloop project.
“If you can build a tunnel in LA, you can build it anywhere,” he smiled, focusing — at least for the time being — on the more doable Loop project.
The Loop project which Musk discussed at the Leo Beak Temple is a more practical — at least when referring to Musk’s grand plans — alternative to the Hyperloop. He cited the advantages of an underground transportation system, including the fact that it’s weatherproof, and architects can create more lanes as needed. “Highways are at the outer limit of their capacity… for tunnels you can have hundreds of lanes, there’s no real limits,” he said. Pedestrians and bikes may eventually have access to the system, and Musk said he envisions dozens to hundreds of small stations, about the size of a single or double car parking spot, to alleviate traffic at any one spot.
He also talked about the improvement to the actual boring, from continuous mining to tripling the power of the machines themselves, as well as ways to decrease costs of tunneling.
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