The Boring Company
|Industry||Geotechnical engineering |
Subterranean product development
|Founded||December 17, 2016|
Los Angeles, California,
|Steve Davis (president)|
The Boring Company (also known as TBC) is an American infrastructure and tunnel construction services company founded by Elon Musk. Its current and proposed projects are designed for loop intra-city transit systems, although the company has stated that the Hawthorne test tunnel can support Hyperloop R&D and that current tunnels are being built so they could support eventual transition to Hyperloop-based transportation on longer inter-city routes.
TBC has completed one tunnel for testing Hyperloop and Loop in Los Angeles County, and it has another tunnel under construction in Las Vegas for Loop. Two further tunnels are pending permitting, with one connecting Washington D.C. to Baltimore designed for both Loop and Hyperloop, and another tunnel connecting Dodger Stadium to the rest of Los Angeles with Loop.
Musk cited difficulty with Los Angeles traffic and what he sees as limitations with the current two-dimensional transportation network as his early inspiration for the project. The Boring Company was initially formed as a subsidiary of SpaceX, becoming a separate and fully independent company in 2018. As of December 2018, 90% of the equity was owned by Musk, with 6% held by SpaceX in return for the use of SpaceX resources during the initial startup of the company. Outside investments during 2019 have changed the equity split.
History of the company
Elon Musk announced the existence of The Boring Company in December 2016. By February 2017, the company had begun digging a 30-foot-wide (9 m), 50-foot-long (15 m), and 15-foot-deep (4.6 m) testing trench on the premises of SpaceX's offices in Hawthorne, since construction on its site would not require any permits. When told by employees on a Friday afternoon that it would take at least two weeks to move staff cars in the parking lot and start digging the first hole with TBC tunneling machine, Musk said, "Let's get started today and see what's the biggest hole we can dig between now and Sunday afternoon, running 24 hours a day." Later that day, the cars were gone and there was a hole in the ground. The Boring Company was initially formed as a subsidiary of SpaceX before becoming an independent company in 2018.
In March 2017, Musk announced that sometime in April the company would start using a tunnel boring machine (TBM) to begin digging a usable tunnel at SpaceX. At the end of April 2017, a TBM was seen at SpaceX with The Boring Company's name on the side. The name of the TBM was revealed as Godot in May 2017, named after the Beckett play Waiting for Godot. Future TBMs will also be named after poems and plays. Musk says the first route created will run from LAX to Culver City, then to Santa Monica, and end in Westwood. Musk claims the tunnel trip will take five minutes, compared to above ground driving which takes 45 minutes in normal traffic (from LAX to Westwood). These trips were planned to be implemented by placing a car on an electric sled and traveling at 120 miles per hour (200 km/h) through tunnels. By November 2017, the company had filed a permitting application with Los Angeles government regulators to build a tunnel from Hawthorne along Interstate 405 to Westwood.
At the same time as the Los Angeles tunnel system was announced, a different project involving a Hyperloop (a sealed tube) running underground from New York City to Washington, D.C, was announced. Musk claimed it would take 29 minutes to travel from one city center to the other. Other Hyperloop projects include one from San Francisco to Los Angeles and another inside Texas, which were being considered for a later phase.
In July 2017, Musk uploaded a video depicting a successful test of a prototype car elevator. In October, Musk revealed the second TBM is named Line-storm, named after the Robert Frost poem “A Line-Storm Song”.
In March 2018, Elon Musk announced that the company would readjust its plan to prioritize pedestrians and cyclists over cars; cars would only be considered for transport after all other "personalized mass transit needs" were met.
In early 2018, The Boring Company was spun out from SpaceX and into a separate corporate entity. Somewhat less than 10% of equity was given to early employees, and over 90% to Elon Musk. Subsequent concerns by SpaceX shareholders resulted in a December 2018 reallocation of 6% of The Boring Company's equity to SpaceX.
In July 2019, The Boring Company authorized the first external investment, selling $120 million in stock to a number of venture capital firms, after raising US$113 million in non-outside capital during 2018.
By November 2019, Steve Davis had become the president of The Boring Company, after leading boring efforts for Musk since 2016. Davis was one of the earliest hires at SpaceX (in 2003) and has twin Masters degrees in particle physics and aerospace engineering. He began work on a PhD in Economics from George Mason University while he was running the SpaceX Washington DC office. He wrote his 2010 dissertation on US currency debasement, and opened a bar that "became one of the first restaurants in Washington to accept Bitcoin."
In November 2020, The Boring Company announced hiring for a number of positions in Austin, Texas, and by December 2020 had leased two buildings in a 14-acre industrial complex northeast of Austin, approximately 26 km (16 mi) north of where Tesla is building its Texas Gigafactory.
The first three boring machines used by The Boring Company are::51:15–54:30
- Godot, a conventional tunnel boring machine made by Canadian company Lovat, which is used for research purposes.
- Line-storm, a highly modified conventional boring machine. In February 2019, Elon Musk estimated in a tweet that Line-storm would be active "in a month or so".
- Prufrock is a "fully-Boring-Company-designed machine":52:03 and was under development by May 2018. By late 2018, TBC completed the design and ordered the long lead time parts. TBC began to assemble the machine in 2019. It is slated to support a 15x improvement in tunnelling speed over the existing state of the art in 2017.:15:18–45 Prufrock is named after "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T. S. Eliot. It has the same diameter as a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft (3.7 metres (12 ft)). In February 2020, Prufrock was shown assembled in a Twitter post with the text: "Prufrock is alive."
Tunnel projects and proposals
The Boring Company currently has active construction or is planning future projects, in both the Los Angeles and Baltimore–Washington areas. They have also been selected to build a downtown-to-airport loop by a government program for high-speed transport in Chicago.
There have been three boring tunnel projects proposed in the Los Angeles area. One test tunnel was completed in November 2018, one proposal was halted after lawsuits and opposition arose, and one was still in progress as of November 2018[update].
Hawthorne Test Tunnel
The Boring Company began constructing a 2-mile (3.2 km) high-speed tunnel in 2017 on a route from Hawthorne, California along Interstate 405 to Westwood, adjacent to the SpaceX headquarters and manufacturing facility. In June 2018, Musk said that the tunnel boring was complete and the tunnel final work was nearly done, would be open in a few months, and that people could try it for free, pending regulatory approval, when it first opened. In November 2018, the company announced the entry fee of the tunnel would be $1 after free entry on day one. The project was opened on December 18, 2018 and this event showcased a Tesla Model X used in the tunnel.
In September 2018, public information was released by the City of Hawthorne that a test spur and elevator has been proposed near the intersection of 120th Street and Hawthorne Boulevard. The elevator spur would enable engineering tests. Those tests would consist of: an automotive vehicle driven onto a "skate" above ground, the engine turned off, the vehicle (with passengers inside) lowered into the tunnel spur, moving the vehicle (possibly on the skate) through the tunnel, and then raising the vehicle on a skate to the surface at the other end of the test track, near the SpaceX facility. By June 2019, the company paved the tunnel roadway with asphalt, smoothed the surface, added guide-way for autonomous vehicle operation, and were testing car runs (without a skate) through the mile-long tunnel at speeds of 90 mph (140 km/h) for autonomous control and up to 116 mph (187 km/h) with human control.
Westside tunnel concept
In May 2018, The Boring Company announced an initial concept to develop a second privately funded tunnel in the Los Angeles area: a 2.7-mile-long (4.3 km) test tunnel on a north-south alignment parallel to Interstate 405 and adjacent to Sepulveda Boulevard in Los Angeles, near the junction with Interstate 10. It was to be a single-tunnel shaft on private property. It was not to be used for public transportation, but for experimentation. The goal of the experimentation included public customer feedback to help the company learn so that they could submit more complete and better information to the California environmental regulator for a long-lead-time Environmental Impact Assessment for the broader loop tunnel transportation system that might be designed for the Los Angeles area.:25:50
A proposal to build a 3.6-mile (5.8 km) tunnel called the "Dugout Loop" was first publicly discussed in August 2018. The tunnel would extend from a to-be-determined location on Vermont Avenue (three different possibilities were suggested in the original document) to terminate at Dodger Stadium. The project would be a public-private partnership, if approved and built, and it is anticipated construction would require 14 months to complete. Also in August, the City of Los Angeles published a study and environmental checklist for the proposed project, detailing an overview of the project, alignment, construction and operational effects on the city, along with a list of the sixteen California public regulatory agencies that would oversee and permit various aspects of the project.
In July 2017, Musk announced plans to build a Hyperloop tunnel connecting Washington, DC and New York City. He initially stated that the project had "verbal government approval", but government officials disputed this claim and Musk later clarified that there was no formal approval. A November 2020 article in The New York Times on the state of the technology said that "neither [Musk] nor his companies are working on hyperloops."
A route between NoMa, Washington, D.C. and downtown Baltimore, following the Baltimore–Washington Parkway, was announced[by whom?] in March 2018. The proposed tunnel would use the company's "Loop" concept, carrying passengers or vehicles on electric "skates".
In April 2019, a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for the project was published by the Federal Highway Administration, a sub-agency of the US Department of Transportation. The proposed system would include autonomous electric vehicles (AEVs), main artery tunnels, loop stations, ventilation shafts, four TBM launch shafts, and maintenance terminals for charging and maintenance of AEVs. Those maintenance terminals would be converted from TBM launch shafts after the tunnels were constructed. The main artery tunnels would be twin tunnels separated by 30 ft (9.1 m). Each tunnel would be approximately 35 miles (56 km) in length, 14 feet (4.3 m) in boring diameter and with a finished inner diameter of 14 ft (4.3 m). Tunnel depth to the top of the tunnel would exceed 30 ft (9.1 m), but will be deeper in some locations. The proposed system appears not to meet key safety requirements such as the number of emergency exits. However, NFPA standards allow alternative solutions to be proposed if a risk-based assessment demonstrates that they are equivalent or superior to the stated methods, subject to specific approval.
A competition to build a high-speed link from downtown Chicago to the soon-to-be-expanded O'Hare Airport was reduced to two bidders by March 2018. The Boring Company was selected in June 2018 and after that was to have worked out a contract to be presented to the Chicago City Council. Construction was to be entirely financed by The Boring Company, which would subsequently maintain and operate the link. The system would transport passengers in automated electric cars carrying 16 passengers (and their luggage) through two parallel tunnels running under existing public way alignments, traveling from Block 37 to the airport in 12 minutes, at speeds reaching 125 to 150 miles per hour (200 to 240 km/h), with pods departing as often as every 30 seconds.
Several local politicians and civic groups criticized the proposed project as unnecessary, having environmental impacts, using unproven technology, and for a lack of transparency. At a forum of mayoral candidates in January 2019, most expressed reservations about the project. As of June 2019[update] project had not yet been approved by the Chicago mayor's office or the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.
In early 2019, The Boring Company began working on a government-sponsored project in Las Vegas. By mid-2020, following the completion of boring the first two TBC tunnels in the city, two additional private projects were in the works.
Convention Center project
In March 2019, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) recommended The Boring Company for a system to shuttle visitors in a loop underneath the sprawling Las Vegas Convention Center, to be completed by 2021, with the potential for future expansion along the Strip and to Allegiant Stadium and McCarran International Airport. In May 2019, the company won a $48.7 million project to do so. In September, on-site preparations for the tunnel project were reported, and construction started in October. Maximum boring speeds were expected to reach 100 ft (30 m) per day. Boring of the first tunnel began on November 15. The first tunnel shaft, which was 4,475 ft (1,364 m) long, was completed 91 days later on February 14, 2020. In May 2020, the tunneling was completed for the second Las Vegas tunnel.
The tunnel will use Tesla Model 3 and Model X electric vehicles as well as a modified 16-passenger version of the Model 3. Given the current design of the stations, fire regulations limit the system to 1200 passengers per hour, less than the original estimate of 3960 per hour.
This section needs expansion with: addition of the Ceasars Loop project after late fall 2020. You can help by adding to it. (December 2020)
Following the completion of the two tunnel bores for the LVCC project in May 2020, two Las Vegas strip hotels, Encore and Resorts World Las Vegas, applied to regulators in June to obtain permits for The Boring Company to dig private tunnels to allow direct access between each resort hotel and the Las Vegas Convention Center. The hotels report that the tunnels could be in operation as early as January 2021 and mid-year 2021, respectively.[needs update]
Longer-term plans include linking the Las Vegas Strip, McCarran International Airport and Allegiant Stadium into an underground tunnel network. The connection to the stadium could be in place as early as the start of the 2021 NFL football season, but 2022 is more likely. The Boring Company is projected to fund the stadium extension, but would presumably make commercial agreements that make the project provide a return on the investment.
In addition to specific projects that The Boring Company is working on, a number of inquiries and very early discussions have been held with Boring Company and regional or municipal officials.
- San Jose
In February 2019, San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo announced that he had held talks with The Boring Company regarding a link between San Jose International Airport and Diridon station, as an alternative to a traditional rail link that had been quoted at $800 million. San Jose has released two requests for information: one for the airport/Diridon station route and another that "would run along the Stevens Creek corridor, a busy thoroughfare that connects downtown to Cupertino, about a dozen miles west."
In February 2021, Miami mayor Francis Suarez revealed that Musk had proposed to dig a two-mile tunnel under the Miami River for $30 million, within a six-month timescale, compared with $1 billion over four years estimated by the local transit authority.
In January 2019, Musk responded to a query from an Australian MP regarding a tunnel through the Blue Mountains to the west of Sydney, suggesting costs of $24 million/mi ($15 million/km) or $750 million for the 31-mile (50 km) tunnel, plus $50 million per station.
In January 2019, Musk stated that he had been asked by the director of CERN about construction of the tunnels for its 62-mile-circumference (100 km) Future Circular Collider and that The Boring Company could save CERN several billion euros.
If you think of tunnels going 10, 20, 30 layers deep (or more), it is obvious that going 3D down will encompass the needs of any city’s transport of arbitrary size.— Elon Musk
The company states that future boring operations will implement a "contemporaneous operation" of boring and tunnel reinforcement to reduce the cost of the tunnelling operations, in addition to the reduction of tunnel size, re-using soil materials for tunnel construction, and further technological improvements.
According to Tesla, Inc. and SpaceX board member Steve Jurvetson, tunnels specifically built for electric vehicles have reduced size and complexity, and thus decreased cost. “The insight I think that's so powerful is that if you only envision electric vehicles in your tunnels you don't need to do the air handling for all carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, you know, basically pollutants in exhaust. You could have scrubbers and a variety of simpler things that make everything collapse to a smaller tunnel size, which dramatically lowers the cost ... The whole concept of what you do with tunnels changes.”
Musk also hinted at the possibility that the underground infrastructure technology might be used for his project of creating a self-sustaining human colony on Mars: "And then, along the way, building underground habitats where you could get radiation shielding... you could build an entire city underground if you wanted to".
Marketing and promotional merchandise
In 2018, the company began to engage in a number of marketing promotions and offered several types of promotional merchandise to consumers. To date, these have included hats, fire extinguishers, and "flamethrowers".
The company began its consumer sales by offering 50,000 hats. When the hats sold out in January 2018, it began offering 20,000 "flamethrowers" for preordering. The Boring Company's "flamethrower" was a blow torch shaped to look like a gun and is legal to use in all U.S. states except Maryland. The sale of the "flamethrower" attracted criticism, with politician Miguel Santiago seeking to introduce legislation that would ban sales of the device in California. In just a few days, all 20,000 "flamethrowers" were sold, but after customs officials said that they would not allow any items called 'flamethrowers', Elon Musk announced on Twitter that he would rename them to "Not-A-Flamethrower" and subsequently updated The Boring Company website where it also states that it is the "world's safest flamethrower". Musk also announced separate sales of The Boring Company Fire Extinguisher, which he described as "overpriced... but this one comes with a cool sticker".
In March 2018, Musk announced on Twitter that the company would soon be launching a new type of merchandise, which he described as "lifesize LEGO-like interlocking bricks made from tunneling rock that you can use to create sculptures & buildings". According to marketing material, the bricks will cost 10 cents each and can withstand California's seismic loads. Musk also tweeted that they would be turned into kits, with ancient Egypt-inspired buildings, such as "pyramids, Sphinx, temple of Horus, etc".
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- Thompson, Avery (February 16, 2017). "Elon Musk Is Really Making a Boring Company". Popular Mechanics. Archived from the original on April 28, 2017. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
- "Elon Musk's Tunnel Under LA Is Already in Progress". Wired. Archived from the original on March 22, 2017. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
- "The Boring Company FAQ: 2017". The Boring Company. July 22, 2017. Archived from the original on July 22, 2017. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
- "Steve Jurvetson talks The Boring Company: Short-range EV tunnels before Hyperloop". teslarati.com. Archived from the original on October 14, 2017. Retrieved October 14, 2017.
- "Elon Musk's L.A. Tunnel Boring Project is Just Practice for Mars". inverse.com. Archived from the original on August 24, 2017. Retrieved August 24, 2017.
- "Public Access – Why Elon Musk's LA Tunnel Is Really About Colonizing Mars". Engadget. Archived from the original on August 24, 2017. Retrieved August 24, 2017.
- "Elon Musk bought a boring machine but is it for LA or Mars? – Fanatical Futurist by Keynote Speaker and Futurist Matthew Griffin". globalfuturist.org. Archived from the original on August 24, 2017. Retrieved August 24, 2017.
- "Flamethrower". boringcompany.com. The Boring Company. Archived from the original on January 29, 2018. Retrieved January 29, 2018.
- "Elon Musk's Boring Company is now raising money by selling flamethrowers". CNN. January 28, 2018. Archived from the original on January 29, 2018. Retrieved January 29, 2018.
- "Timeout everyone. Y'all know that Musk's $500 'flamethrower' is literally a Boring blowtorch?". boringcompany.com. Archived from the original on January 30, 2018. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
the "flamethrower" is basically a glorified propane blowtorch of the type commonly used by gardeners for burning weeds
- "California politician will seek sale ban on Elon Musk's Boring Company flamethrower". The Verge. Archived from the original on February 4, 2018. Retrieved February 4, 2018.
- Musk, Elon [@elonmusk] (March 25, 2018). "New Boring Company merch coming soon. Lifesize LEGO-like interlocking bricks made from tunneling rock that you can use to create sculptures & buildings. Rated for California seismic loads, so super strong, but bored in the middle, like an aircraft wing spar, so not heavy" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "Boring Company bricks". Archived from the original on December 26, 2018. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
- "Ancient Egypt kits". Electrek. Archived from the original on August 31, 2018. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
- Official website
- The Boring Company's list of frequently asked questions
- on YouTube
- The Boring Company Information Session (video). 55 minutes, video of information session on the vision of The Boring Company and the project in Los Angeles, with Q&A