When Elon Musk first showed off his concept for underground transportation, it was hard to wrap your head around. You would drive any car onto a giant electric skate and it would propel you through the tunnel, avoiding city congestion.
Since then, the practical application has seen some major modifications to that concept. While Musk’s Boring Company is still digging the tunnels, the test rides given to press last year featured a Model X with guide rails and training wheels, similar to the system used by a rollercoaster.
Today we see another video from the Boring Company and that system is all gone, replaced by a stock standard Model X and painted white lines. Leveraging the same Autopilot technology used above ground, the car can now navigate the tunnel (which features only subtle turns).
Something perhaps we hadn’t considered about the travelling through underground tunnels is that standard road rules don’t apply. That means there are no speed limits. To dramatically demonstrate that, the Model 3 is shown travelling at 127mph which in Aussie km/hr works out to be almost 205km/hr.
That speed is kind of insane, but we know the car is capable of it, with a top speed figure of around 260km/hr for the Model 3 Performance.
The Boring Company video titled “Wanna race?” shows a head-to-head battle of a car travelling from point A to B. Using 2x Model 3s (I assume the same spec), one takes the standard above ground commute through traffic, while the other is lowered into the 1.83 km tunnel.
Naturally with the ability to achieve a top speed that high, the Model 3 in the tunnel smashes it, completing the journey in just 1m 36s, while the above ground only reached a top speed of 44mph (around 70km/hr) and took 4m 44s.
When Elon Musk was asked why the change to this approach was made, he simply replied with ‘This is simple and just works’.
With the change in requirement from guide rails and wheel skates, the bar just got raised even higher for competitors because now you need a car that has autopilot-like autonomous features and you need that car to be fast as to avoid creating tunnel congestion.
The boring company recently won the contract to build a tunnel in Las Vegas, worth around US$48.6M. While the concept of the big electric skate carrying any vehicle has gone, Tesla isn’t preventing other company’s from sending vehicles through their tunnels, they just have to be electric and be very Tesla-like in their abilities.