Elon Musk Wants Us to Look at Traffic Three-Dimensionally, But Down

Gudot segment 1 photo
Photo: The Boring Company
When the idea of having flying cars stopped being completely ridiculous and actually seemed doable in a foreseeable time interval, people started gleeing with joy at the prospect.
Then the natural question came: "OK, it sure is nice to see everything from up top, but what if I come across a flying-BMW driver who thinks there's enough room to get in front of me, but clips my flying car instead?"

Surely, what would have otherwise gone as a minor accident becomes a lethal crash in the sky. And who knows how many other cars you take with you on your way down as well, not to mention finally landing on top of a kindergarten. Are the risks worth it?

Well, some math revealed that keeping the current number of cars, these flying vehicles would be at least 300 feet away from each other at any time, and it was all due to the added dimension. Of course we would need a new set of rules and a completely new infrastructure, but the fact there would be a great distance between the flying cars remained.

Musk agrees with the 3D approach, but he thinks people are going in the wrong direction. He believes his newly-founded Boring Company is actually the right answer, and makes a few statements to back all this up. But not before posting an unusually amusing tweet: "What I love about The Boring Company are the low expectations. Nowhere to go but down."

The CEO of Tesla, SpaceX, and the Boring Company made a list of the benefits brought by tunnels:

* There is no practical limit to how many layers of tunnels can be built, so any level of traffic can be addressed.
* Tunnels are weatherproof.
* Tunnel construction/operation is silent to anyone on the surface.
* Tunnels don’t divide communities with lanes and barriers.

However, there is one restricting factor at the moment, and that's the relatively slow speed of the boring machines. Musk always said he has a plan to address that as well, and now he's given a few bullet points that us how he's going to do it:

* Increase TBM (tunnel boring machine) power. The machine’s power output can be tripled (while coupled with the appropriate upgrades in cooling systems).
* Continuously tunnel. When building a tunnel, current soft-soil machines tunnel for 50% of the time and erect tunnel support structures the other 50%. This is not efficient. Existing technology can be modified to support continuous tunneling activity.
* Automate the TBM. While smaller diameter tunneling machines are automated, larger ones currently require multiple human operators. By automating the larger TBMs, both safety and efficiency are increased.
* Go electric. Current tunnel operations often include diesel locomotives. These can be replaced by electric vehicles.
* Tunneling R&D. In the United States, there is virtually no investment in tunneling Research and Development (and in many other forms of construction). Thus, the construction industry is one of the only sectors in our economy that has not improved its productivity in the last 50 years.

This thing sounded like a joke a few months ago when Musk first mentioned it, and now it's a fully-running company that's getting ready to start digging its first tunnel. If it turns out to solve the congested traffic problem, then it'll be story of the century.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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