The Boring Company’s Las Vegas Loop keeps on impressing us with its clever solutions to the problems of public transportation, but one recent discovery has really swept us off our feet with its elegant simplicity.
You see, in the event of failure in this modern wonder, drivers are being trained to simply back on out of there. No need for complex protocol or like, another way out, or a way for an emergency vehicle to get in there in this expensive infrastructure project. Just hit reverse, ya dummy!
Now, before you go on feeling superior to the drivers shuttling folks via the LVCC Loop, keep in mind that the training for this maneuver is not as easy as you think. Because drivers have to go in reverse the entire length of the 1.7-mile loop, possibly even in the dark! Listen to this Loop driver tell it:
It’s not all-work-and-no-play for the drivers, though. The driver featured in the video above explained that their instruction is actually quite a good time:
It’s fun when they have you trained to reverse out of here.
They’ll start you on this end during the training and they say, ‘OK. Reverse all the way out,’ and you have to go all the way out. Y’know. Up the ramp, all the way.
As the driver explains, his passengers ooh and aah and one of them even interjects, adding to the driver’s description, “...now, do it in the dark.”
The passenger seems to propose that among the wide range of failure events that could cause the Loop to suspend travel, one of these would be a power outage, which would kill the soothing LED lights in the tunnel. That could definitely add to the complexity of driving in reverse, though the Boring Company driver doesn’t confirm whether that was part of their instruction.
My immediate question is about the speed and rate of travel for the drivers in the event of a failure. There are 11 Teslas operating in the tunnel, and their speed is capped at 35 miles per hour. But what speed are they meant to travel in reverse? How exactly do you synchronize a fleet driving backwards in order to avoid accidents, especially if some drivers are better at going backwards than others?
And what happens if a car suffers a mechanical failure? If the steady flow of passengers depends on the fleet’s ingress and egress in series, what exactly happens if, say, the sixth car breaks down? Driving in reverse sounds like an easy and simple solution, but it doesn’t help those in the broken down car, which can’t go forward or backward.
Worse off, what do drivers and passengers do if there’s a car fire? EV fires are notoriously harder to put out than fires in ICE cars, even in an open-air setting. You add the enclosed space of the tunnel and the constraint of its dimensions relative to the Tesla cars, and you’ve heaped on layers of complexity to a dire situation.
The answer to all of these questions is likely something as elegantly simple as driving in reverse, and yet it eludes me.