The Boring Company’s tunnel machines are about to get a whole lot better. Elon Musk’s tunnel-digging venture was founded two years prior with the promise of making projects cheaper and faster. On Wednesday, the entrepreneur sketched out his roadmap for future machines.
The company revealed its 1.14-mile Hawthorne tunnel this week, dug at a cost of around $10 million using the first version of its machines, dubbed “Godot” in reference to the Samuel Beckett play Waiting for Godot. The company’s next project will use an upgraded version of the first machine dubbed “Line-Storm,” likely keeping the literary theme as a reference to Robert Frost’s poem “A Line-Storm Song.” The third version, which Musk claimed would be “aspirationally 10X better,” is expected to launch next year with the name “Prufrock,” likely a reference to the T.S. Eliot poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”
The firm plans a number of improvements to reduce tunneling costs. It plans to triple the amount of power going to the machine, with automated segment erection and a modified cutter design. Another idea is to mine continuously, with current designs only digging for about 10 minutes per hour as the team switches off the machine to complete preparatory work. All these improvements are designed to reduce the approximately $1 billion cost per mile of regular tunnels.
Musk also explained how his plan to fill cities with tunnels would survive under pressure. He told a user in response that “so long as the tunnels are spaced about one diameter apart, most of the stress will flow around them, but this won’t matter for the first few layers.” This would be ideal for the firm’s plan to build a multitude of tunnels, as a means of avoiding induced demand by providing more capacity than needed for the entire population of a city.
The company’s next tunnel could be an airport link in Chicago, announced last summer, with mayor Rahm Emanuel’s team aiming to move the project through city council before his term finishes in May.
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