The Boring Company, Elon Musk's tunnel-digging venture, is getting ready to unveil its first public tunnel.
On Wednesday, Musk shared a new image with his 37 million Twitter followers. The new concept render appears to show one of the three stations planned for the Las Vegas Convention Center project. The two tunnels are designed to take 4,400 attendees per hour in one of two directions over a distance of nearly a mile. The work is part of a planned redevelopment of the center, and the tunnels are expected to be ready for the annual Consumer Electronics Show early next year.
In a response to the same image, Musk also shared a new tidbit about The Boring Company's planned minibus. The vehicle, designed in combination with Tesla and revealed in a report last month, will move 12 people and their luggage at once. Musk wrote that the van will not look similar to concept art that was shared in 2017 depicting people inside a futuristic glass pod, adding that it's "best to have people seated for safety & speed of travel."
The image shows the Central Hall station, complete with eight Tesla vehicles either side of a central hallway. At the near end is an escalator leading down into the station, and at the far end is a sign indicating the location of departures. The sign shows that parking spots one to six are departing for the West Hall, while spots seven to 10 are leading to the South Hall. That suggests there are 10 spots total, but two are not visible. To the right is a tourism sign emblazoned with Las Vegas' new slogan first unveiled in 2003: "what happens here, only happens here."
With The Boring Company yet to start construction on any more public projects, it's a statement that looks set to hold true for a while.
The Boring Company was borne out of Musk's frustration with Los Angeles traffic at the end of 2016. A concept video in April 2017 depicted cars on skates, plus futuristic people movers.
In December 2018, the company took the wraps off a 1.14-mile tunnel by the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. Musk explained that the company was aiming to build slim tunnels measuring just 14 feet in diameter, saving on tunneling costs. They would support electric, autonomous cars moving at speeds of up to 150 mph. Musk has since demonstrated this tunnel in action, most recently in public with the Tesla Cybertruck accompanied by Jay Leno.
On Wednesday, Musk suggested the Las Vegas tunnel would initially employ a slightly tweaked version of this vision. On his Twitter page, he wrote that the vehicles depicted would be "human overseen at first, then fully self-driving."
And while The Boring Company may be looking at vehicles with higher capacity, Musk was keen to stress that the main focus would be on moving people in smaller vehicles. On his page, he wrote that "individualized mass transit is the future."
The Inverse analysis – The image helps shed more light on how the system will work. It's easy to imagine how convention visitors will take the escalator down, wait for the correct vehicle, and hop in to whizz across the center at speed.
But it seems it will take some time before Musk's originally-outlined vision for the company will take shape in a public-facing project. The tunnel will initially use human oversight, meaning the prospect of an electric car that navigates the center using software and sensors will have to wait.
As the first public-facing project, the Las Vegas tunnel could demonstrate the company's vision for transport to other cities and help them evaluate whether it could solve their own problems.