Elon Musk has been talking and tweeting about tunneling below Los Angeles to beat traffic for ages. We don’t have a full subterranean road system yet, but it looks like the Boring Company now has a 1.14-mile long prototype underneath Hawthorne that a Tesla Model X can fit through.
Apparently on Tuesday a few special people got invited to get a ride down the car-sized elevator that Musk’s Boring Company has built behind a nondescript house it purchased near its headquarters. From there, people got to cruise down the length of the tunnel in “a Tesla Model X that reached a top speed of 53 mph, manually driven by an employee who previously drove in the Indianapolis 500,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Times also wrote that the ride down there was pretty bumpy. I guess there wasn’t quite enough time to pave the road properly before Musk wanted to do his demonstration. And fully autonomous operation is not ready for primetime.
Here is a little video clip that the Boring Company provided to media outlets:
Looks like the opening sequence of Star Fox 64. Fun!
According to the LAist and other outlets, the tunnel measures 1.14 miles in length and 12 feet in diameter and has WiFi and cell phone service because sure, why not. It is said to be “20 to 40 feet beneath the streets of Hawthorne, through a neighborhood sandwiched between the 105 Freeway and Hawthorne Municipal Airport.”
The LA Times on how it’s been received:
At a City Council meeting last week, residents lined up at the microphone to address their elected officials, complaining about airport noise, tow trucks, potholed streets and the derelict Hawthorne Plaza Mall. No residents and no elected officials mentioned the tunnel.
After the meeting, Mayor Alex Vargas said the tunnel is “a source of pride” for Hawthorne. The city held public meetings and sent out mailers about the project, but he added that secrecy is a “good quality” for the Boring Co. “because then people don’t know what they’re doing.”
News outlets are reporting that the short prototype tunnel’s approximate $10 million production cost “does not include the costs of research, development or equipment.”
At one point, the dream for this tunnel system was for cars to hop onto giant skateboards and be whisked through the tubes. But now it looks like the plan is for cars to be retrofitted with little wheels that fold out to navigate along tracks or something.
Anyway, in case you’re just tuning in to this saga, the tirelessly talkative Tesla tzar Elon Musk wants to burrow a private highway/subway hybrid network below Los Angeles and presumably other cities. Fans are fired up over the idea of a fast and cheap public transit alternative, opponents are nervous that the company might overlook safety factors in its rush to achieve its goals at an aggressive pace. Shareholders are probably concerned as to whether their money is being used efficiently.
I just thought the tunnel tour clip made a fun looping GIF.