We need tunnels. Lots of tunnels.
Elon Musk had a chance to say a few words this Friday morning at TED. As you would expect, the questions were aiming his next ideas rather than focusing on his achievements.
There was still a lot of speculation around his new venture – the Boring Company. We’ve heard him mentioning it on occasion, but no details about the new technological breakthrough on his new boring machine or how he intended to implement it to break free from gridlock.
A network of tunnels
During the TED, a video was shown with this vision. The basic idea is to create a vast network of tunnels that take people from point A to point B. This would create the 3D mesh that would allow unconstrained movement between two points.
The network would consist of a mix between hyperloop tubes and car tunnels. The first would typically be an option between major urban areas given since the hyperloop will be a fast vehicle traveling at supersonic speeds inside a vacuum tube. The second makes sense within the urban area itself, where the traffic jams happen more frequently and on shorter distances.
The car platform
Now, focusing on the car side of the concept, the implementation is a bit more unusual. Neither driver nor (eventually) self-driving cars are doing the driving or the steering on the tunnels.
Despite being design to achieve full autonomy until the end of this year, we can see a Tesla Model S moving on top of a wheeled platform. This platform, then, moves underground until the respective tunnel and seems to move itself on some kind of rail.
This would be a hybrid between a hyperloop and a normal tunnel since there is no vacuum tube but the car and its occupants are given additional safety while still moving at relatively high speeds.
So far, platforms have only been used as a solution for parking on dense urban centers by stacking cars vertically. This solution, arguably simpler than a hyperloop, still presents some technical challenges even after considering that the boring machine proves to be many times more cost efficient than current solutions.
Self-moving platforms are quite the unusual solution for a big problem such as gridlock. But then again, considering what was written on this article, this seems to be Elon’s usual approach to big challenges. What do you think about this one?