The entire concept behind Elon Musk’s dream for an expansive, underground transit system keeps getting clearer and clearer, and recently released photos of the Boring Company’s mass transit pod is yet another piece in the puzzle.
With the aim of eliminating big city congestion, Musk first proposed the idea of moving transit underground through a series of tunnels in early 2016. Since then, he’s started a company to do it — the Boring Company — and unveiled a tunneling machine to do the dirty work.
Still, it wasn’t until a TED talk in late April that Musk finally revealed exactly what the Boring Company’s tunnel system would actually look like. In the simulated video, a car drives onto a metal sled on a normal road and is then lowered underground and propelled through an expansive labyrinth of tunnels at a presumably high speed.
Although the video focused on the car’s journey, there’s another important mode of transport that’s been hiding in the Boring Company’s wings. On Friday the company’s website quietly posted some photos of a mass transit vehicle that can basically be described as a pod. We actually got a sneak peek at a few of these pods during the TED talk video, but it would have been easy to miss.
Now displayed in full detail on the Boring Company’s Instagram-esque media page, the pods look like they can hold at least ten people, with room for standing, sitting and bikes.
One question that comes to mind based on the pod’s raised frame is how a mass transit model like this would facilitate people with mobility issues. Making public transit more accessible to those with disabilities has become a major issue in large cities. For anyone who might not be able to step up onto a platform, the Boring Company will need to have another option. On the other hand, perhaps one of the positive things that can be inferred from the Boring Company video is that the tunnel system would have mass transit pods popping up all over regular streets. A system like this could be a benefit to disabled folks who struggle to find properly accessible subway stations and bus stops.
Musk also mentioned at April’s TED talk that he intends for his tunnels to be capable of holding the Hyperloop, a high-speed transportation technology that Musk’s other company SpaceX has been developing for some time.
In order for the Boring Company’s tunnels to be stable, they’ll also be naturally suited to the Hyperloop’s vacuum, he explained. “In order to seal against the water table, you’ve got to typically design a tunnel wall to be good to about five or six atmospheres,” Musk said. “To go to vacuum is only one atmosphere — or near-vacuum — so it sort of turns out automatically that if you build a tunnel that is good enough to resist the water table, it’s automatically capable of holding vacuum.”
The pods pictured on the Boring Company website could be the designs intended for Hyperloop. Musk has claimed that Hyperloop pods will be used to travel as far as from Washington D.C. to New York. If these pods are going to be making those trips, they might want to think about adding a few more seats.