Elon Musk’s Boring Company announced on Twitter that its third-generation boring machine, which is supposed to have had its ability greatly improved to dig tunnels fast and cheap, is now working.
The Boring Company’s mission is to reduce traffic in metropolitan areas by improving the technology of boring tunnels and developing a fully electric and autonomous transport system that works well inside those tunnels.
For its first test tunnel in Los Angeles, the company basically bought an existing boring machine, which it named Godot, in order to learn more about the process of digging tunnels.
After completing the mile-long test tunnel, the Boring Company bought a second machine and modified it. This second-generation boring machine is called “Line-Storm.”
At a launch event in December 2018, CEO Elon Musk said that the company is working on its third-generation gorging machine called Prufrock.
For that machine, they are working to increase the power of the machine by a factor 3, modify the cutter design, and add an automated segment erection system.
Musk said existing tunnel boring companies spend only about 10 minutes mining per hour, as the rest is spent installing the reinforcement and deploying all the logistics behind: power, dirt removal, etc.
They see a potential 15x improvement in the speed of boring versus the next-best boring technology by engineering a system that automatically takes care of that at the same time as they dig.
At the time, Musk said that the new system would be ready “relatively soon.”
Now just over a year later, the Boring Company has shared an image of a boring machine with the caption “Prufrock is alive”:
Prufrock is alive pic.twitter.com/VH2YDAw4rb
— The Boring Company (@boringcompany) February 23, 2020
It presumably means that the new boring machine is completed, and it even looks like it is being deployed, though they didn’t confirm the location.
The news comes just after the Boring Company completed its first of two tunnels for its Las Vegas Loop project, which is expected to become the company’s first full commercial project when it goes into operation later this year.
To me, it looks like the Las Vegas project was more about deploying a Loop system than boring super-fast and efficiently.
It’s going to be a fairly small loop system, and it will give the Boring Company the opportunity to demonstrate its concept on a small scale.
But while that was the focus of the project, I am glad that they are also independently working on their tunnel-boring technology, which is required to reduce the cost of tunnels and achieve the company’s mission to reduce traffic.
It will be interesting to see what kind of speed the Boring Company can achieve with Prufrock.
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