February 17, 2017

SpaceX parking lot Tesla Inc. tunneling Ewan Telford for Bloomberg Businessweek

It began with talk of tunnels, then there were pictures of tunneling tools from Tesla Inc. Now Elon Musk is reporting that construction is underway for a vast underground transportation network for cars and Hyperloop.

We are glad to hear new details on the project, particularly after seeing the above picture of a large hole in the parking lot of the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

Putting senior SpaceX engineer Steve Davis at the helm, this is the start of a new boring company within Tesla Inc. The goal, in the long term, to create as many as 30 levels of tunnels underneath cities. Flying transportation may be preferable to some, but going underground, particularly for Hyperloop operations, makes a lot of sense to me.

Official tunnels will start at about 50 feet into the ground, well below power and sewer lines. The current gaping hole in the parking lot is only about 15 feet deep.

The hole tunneling image shown earlier was actually an example of a possible machine Tesla may purchase. The German built machine is 26 feet in diameter, about 400 feet long and is likely a lightly used unit, retired from digging subway tunnels in China.

Whatever machine Musk and team end up putting to use, the goal is to be able to dig up to one mile per week. That’ll mean some retooling and modifications to the German machine, which is apparently good for about 300 feet per week as is.

For all the details, check out the Bloomberg interview with Elon Musk and a few of our own articles on the matter:
Elon Musk confirms tunneling to begin soon
Tunnel project underway

Do you think underground roadways are an adequate solution to current and future traffic congestion?

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