Smart be­gin­ning

Elon Musk bores a tun­nel to rev­o­lu­tionise city driv­ing

The Gulf Today - Time Out - - TRAVEL -

Elon Musk on Tues­day took a break from fu­tur­is­tic elec­tric cars and pri­vate space travel to un­veil a low-cost tun­nel he sees as a god­send for city trafic. The bil­lion­aire be­hind Tesla and SpaceX re­cently put the spot­light on the a 1.14 mile (1.8 kilo­me­ter) tun­nel cre­ated by his Bor­ing Com­pany for about $10 mil­lion.

The sam­ple tun­nel is part of Musk’s vi­sion to have an un­der­ground net­work that cars, prefer­ably Tes­las, can be low­ered to by lifts then slot­ted into tracks and pro­pelled along at speeds up to 150 mph (241 kmh).

“The only way to solve this is to go 3D, for the trans­port sys­tem to match the liv­ing quar­ters,” Musk said of solv­ing the prob­lem of trafic conges­tion in ur­ban ar­eas.

“It’s all rel­a­tively sim­ple, no No­bel Prize is needed here.”

An en­trance to a sam­ple tun­nel was shown pub­licly for the irst time in this city near Los An­ge­les as the ini­tial stage of Musk’s pro­ject to rev­o­lu­tion­ize city trafic by zip­ping along below con­gested streets.

Musk founded the Bor­ing com­pany two years ago as a self­fi­nanced, side-en­deavor to his work at Tesla and SpaceX.

Spe­cially de­signed equip­ment drills tun­nels wide enough to ac­com­mo­date a car on a track. The net­work en­vi­sioned is an in­fin­itely ex­pand­able mesh of tun­nels and el­e­va­tors ca­pa­ble of hav­ing more than 4,000 cars pass through per hour.

“The deep­est mines are deeper than the tallest build­ings,” Musk said.

“The pro­found break­through is very sim­ple: it’s the abil­ity to turn a nor­mal car into a pas­sively stable ve­hi­cle by adding the de­ploy­able track­ing wheels, sta­bi­liz­ing wheels, so that it can travel at high speed through a small tun­nel.”

Tun­nels will even­tu­ally be open to all com­pat­i­ble self-driv­ing elec­tric ve­hi­cles, but for now Bor­ing is us­ing Tes­las in the tube.

The idea for the pro­ject came to the bil­lion­aire of South African ori­gin when he was fum­ing at the wheel of his car, trapped in trafic jams be­tween his chic Bel Air villa and the SpaceX ofices in Hawthorne.

It is a jour­ney that takes him more than 90 min­utes and he con­sid­ered soul-crush­ing.

The “tun­nel test” un­veiled Tues­day ap­peared sim­ple: a nar­row tube, only 3.65m in di­am­e­ter (12 feet), freshly painted white, in which a Tesla Model X is fit­ted with track­ing wheels to stay in a track and avoid bump­ing the walls.

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