WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
As the roads get more congested and as people become more mobile autonomous, high speed transportation networks give urban planners new transportation options.
Elon Musk’s The Boring Company posted a concept video last year that showed cars entering tunnels on skates, where they hurtled 130 mph toward their destination, and now that plan appears to be getting a huge makeover, and the vehicle involved is increasingly starting to look like the future of the car, like the ones shown off recently by Audi and Toyota – an autonomous pod. Musk tweeted Friday to say that the tunnels Boring Company digs will not, at least at first, allow cars to travel through them. Instead, it will focus on providing mass transportation.
“It’s a matter of courtesy and fairness,” he said, “if someone can’t afford a car, they should go first so the tunnels will prioritise pedestrians & cyclists over cars.”
Musk also posted a new concept video that shows a large, van sized pod loaded with people, lowering into a tunnel from a station roughly the size of a parking spot. The pod then jets off toward Los Angeles’s LAX airport.
Describing the pod, Musk wrote, “I guess you could say it’s a 150 mph, underground, autonomous, electric bus that automatically switches between tunnels and lifts.”
The final Los Angeles transportation network presented in the video, which Musk called an “urban loop system,” would include thousands of small stations around the city, he said in a tweet. The stations will “take you very close to your destination and blend seamlessly into the fabric of a city, rather than a small number of big stations like a subway,” he wrote.
Musk offered no timeline for actually constructing the proposed project, and the “people before cars” philosophy will apparently also apply to The Boring Company’s plan to build an East Coast Hyperloop, which is essentially Musk’s concept Mach 1 train in a vacuum tunnel.
Last July, Musk said in a tweet that he’d received “verbal [government] approval” for that project, though reporting from CNN found the company still needed a vast number of permits and approvals before construction could begin, something that continues to frustrate Musk.
At the moment it’s unclear how the concept for the Hyperloop project would be affected by Musk’s change of plans for the urban loop system, and in fact much about The Boring Company’s future plans is unclear. Major announcements about the company are scarce, and the few details that have been released typically come from Musk’s social media accounts.
The company did purchase a tunnel boring machine though when it was first formed that ended up tearing tunnels beneath the plot of land Musk owns near the SpaceX complex in Hawthorne near LA and Musk occasionally posted Instagram photos of its progress last year.
The Boring Company is not, however, a priority for Musk, who also runs the electric car maker Tesla.
“It’s maybe 2 or 3 percent of my time,” Musk said last April, “this is basically interns and people doing it part time.”