Elon Musk’s tunnel-digging venture is planning a grand opening. The Boring Company’s founder revealed on Friday that an upcoming launch, where the company is expected to demonstrate its technology, will dazzle with modded “autonomous transport cars” and elevators that whizz cars from the ground to the tunnel.
The event is expected to be the first time the general public gets a full demonstration of the two-mile Hawthorne test tunnel, which extends from the SpaceX campus to the Hawthorne Boulevard intersection under a demonstration garage, capable of lifting cars down into the tunnel without moving through the garage door. The tunnel is expected to feature skates built by Musk’s other firm Tesla that can whizz one car or 16 passengers through speeds of up to 150 mph. A grand opening was originally scheduled for December 10, but Musk has seemingly pushed this back by eight days while also promising “more than a tunnel opening.” While Musk has already detailed the car-carrying elevators, his promise of “fully road legal” autonomous cars is slightly more ambiguous.
Musk’s tweet could point to a bigger demonstration. Tesla has been developing an A.I. chip and software package to enable full autonomous driving for vehicles built after October 2016, and it’s one of 63 firms with a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to test autonomous vehicles with a driver. However, despite a promised demonstration of a coast-to-coast autonomous ride by the end of 2017, Musk has subsequently said that the team has delayed this demonstration until it feels confident it has developed a more general-purpose solution. In an interview last month, Musk claimed full self-driving could arrive next year.
Another possibility is that Musk is referring to the skates themselves. The Boring Company’s website describes them as “autonomous vehicles,” and Musk mentioned in June that the electric vehicles are built by Tesla. The platform uses wheels propelled by an electric motor. It’s fully stabilized, which means the tunnel diameter can be reduced to under 14 feet versus a standard road-based tunnel with diameter of 28 feet. This is expected to cut tunneling costs by up to fourfold. The company also claims that it could one day support hyperloop, moving the skate’s speed for 150 mph to over 600 mph.
Hopefully all will be revealed when The Boring Company reveals its first tunnel in 11 days’ time.
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