Elon’s Boring Company Valued at $920 Million

Elon Musk’s Boring Company raised $120 million and has a $920 million valuation.

Boring has a $48.7 million mile-long project to build a tunnel with people moving pods around the Las Vegas Convention Center. If this is successful, the tunnel and system will be extended to the Las Vegas Strip.

Boring Company competitors are very old companies that seem unlikely to be able respond to a truly disruptive competitor.

“The four-largest tunnel companies in the U.S. were founded in the 1800s,” Jurvetson said. “Like the automotive and aerospace sectors, they haven’t faced a disruptive new entrant in their management’s collective life-time.”

Boring Company wants to solve traffic with 3D roads must go 3D. Unlike flying cars, tunnels are weatherproof, out of sight and won’t fall on your head. A large network of tunnels many levels deep would help alleviate congestion in any city, no matter how large it grew (just keep adding levels). The key to making this work is increasing tunneling speed and dropping costs by a factor of 10 or more – this is the goal of The Boring Company. Fast to dig, low cost tunnels would also make Hyperloop adoption viable and enable rapid transit across densely populated regions, enabling travel from New York to Washington DC in less than 30 minutes.

Currently, tunnels are really expensive to dig, with some projects costing as much as $1 billion per mile. In order to make a tunnel network feasible, tunneling costs must be reduced by a factor of more than 10.

How are we reducing the cost of tunneling?

First, we reduced the tunnel diameter. The current standard for a one-lane tunnel is approximately 28 feet. By using electric autonomous vehicles with alignment wheels, the diameter can be reduced to less than 14 feet. Reducing the diameter in half reduces tunneling costs by 3-4 times.

Second, they are working to significantly increase the speed of the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM). TBMs are super slow. A snail is effectively 14 times faster than a soft-soil TBM. Their goal is to defeat the snail in a race.

Ways to increase TBM speed:

Increase TBM 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 inefficient. 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 have been replaced by electric locomotives.

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.

The first three boring machines used by the Boring Company are:

Godot, a conventional tunnel boring machine, used for research purposes.
Line-storm, a highly modified conventional boring machine, a hybrid design, boring 2–3 times faster than pre-2018 boring machines. Line-storm was expected to begin tunneling in the first half of 2019. Line-storm has not been revealed yet.
Prufrock, a “fully-Boring-Company-designed machine”, will be over ten times faster than conventional boring machines.

In typical tunneling projects, excavated dirt is shipped offsite to disposal locations. This process is costly, time-consuming, noisy, and can be environmentally hazardous. The Boring Company has developed technologies to recycle the earth into useful bricks to be used to build structures and into pavers. This is not a new concept, as buildings have been constructed from Earth for thousands of years including, according to recent evidence, the Pyramids. These bricks can potentially be used as a portion of the tunnel lining itself, which is typically built from concrete. Since concrete production accounts for 4.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, earth bricks would reduce both environmental impact and tunneling costs.

Loop is targeting 4,000 vehicles/hour at 155mph (250km/h) for each Main Artery Tunnel. If a second tunnel is added below the first, this value doubles.

Boring Project Proposals

Dugout Loop – Los Angeles, CA

The Boring Company is proposing a project in Los Angeles, CA, that would transport baseball fans and concertgoers directly to the Dodger Stadium from the Los Feliz, East Hollywood, or Rampart Village neighborhoods. Status: In environmental review and permitting

The Chicago Express Loop

The Boring Company has been selected by the Chicago Infrastructure Trust (CIT), on behalf of the City of Chicago, to enter into exclusive negotiations to design, build, finance, operate and maintain an O’Hare Express service. The Chicago Express Loop will provide fast and convenient transportation between O’Hare Airport (Terminals 1-3) and Block 37 in downtown Chicago. Status: In contract review, environmental review and permitting

East Coast Loop – Washington D.C. to Baltimore

The Boring Company is proposing a project on the East Coast from downtown DC to Baltimore, beneath New York Avenue and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

Loop is a high-speed underground public transportation system in which passengers are transported in autonomous electric vehicles (AEVs) traveling at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour.

Status: Tunnel in environmental review and permitting

The proposed tunnels would run in parallel for approximately 35.3 miles beneath the public right-of-way of US 50/New York Avenue Northeast, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, MD 295 and Russell Street from Washington, DC to Baltimore, Maryland.

Although not currently proposed, Loop enables future expansion opportunities to communities along the proposed tunnel alignment. Potential future expansions are not currently planned, and would require separate environmental review. Refer to the Potential Expansion Map below for the communities Loop could potentially service indicated by the blue spurs, and are included as a concept, not as a finalized proposal or alignment.

Travel time to spots along the way would vary linearly with distance – in other words, a trip from DC to Greenbelt would take approximately 5 minutes and from Laurel to Baltimore would take approximately 9 minutes. With Loop, all trips are express, independent of the number of stops along the alignment.

13 thoughts on “Elon’s Boring Company Valued at $920 Million”

  1. Speeding traffic through a dense urban landscape while reclaiming super valuable surface real-estate is a natural fit. I’m surprised San Francisco isn’t clamoring for some of this kind of tunneling, especially when one considers how it was up until the age of urban freeways after world war 2 the world leader in building tunnels which we see all around the bay area: the Yerba Buena for instance and the Highway 101 Waldo Grade, and quite a few others some dating back to the 19th century as a result of experience gained from the mining industry, and taking advantage of SF’s naturally high aspect landscape, not to mention the inherent safety that they provide in seismic events.

  2. consider the Pere Marquette service between Grand Rapids, MI and Chicago, IL. They had to stop last winter (during the polar vortex) and set fires on the tracks to thaw frozen switches.

  3. What’s the current cost-per-mile estimate of the 3rd generation Boring tbm? Though intra-city transport is probably the best bang-for-the-buck, inter-city would be highly useful to those living a few hours away from big cities who are forced to abide slow, slow, slow Amtrak service. Let’s forget hyperloop for a moment, let’s build tunnels between big cities and run trains at 100mph within them. Sure they underperform hyperloop proposals, but they don’t have to wait behind slow freight traffic like Amtrak does today.

  4. There is a gondola up Sulphur Mt. in Banff with a trail switchbacking under it. When I hiked the trail I noticed that while the gondola wasn’t silent it was much less noisy than road traffic.

  5. I’ll take this seriously as a way to move masses when the Boring TBM is scaled up to dig Second Avenue Subway size. Right now, it is mainly to move cars short distances, and that will be too expensive and limited for most people. Of course, TBMs will evolve, possibly beyond Musk’s vision, but since most PB companies date back to the 1800s, innovation may not come from them.

  6. These machines have been improving very rapidly in the last few decades and will continue to do so. Most of the market will not use these narrow tunnels. The market will not let the Musk stay too far ahead for too long.

  7. Probably the gondolas -as someone will have a pylon in their backyard to support it. Also, based on the projects they discuss on the web site, it appears to be dedicated point to point transportation, rather than an extensible system

  8. Las Vegas is the perfect place to showcase the technology with extensions and improvements presented every year at the LV Convention Center for CES. It has a natural expansion plan to connect to every hotel/casino on and immediately off the strip as well as to the Airport, UNLV and downtown LV. It’s a natural place for visitors from anywhere to come see the system in operation at any time. Of course it’s perfect because all this development rather than being an expense to The Boring Company has local customers to pay for it and plenty of users to pay for its upkeep.

    The system could demonstrate popup “stations” for Pods along the Strip, inside hotels, the Convention Center, McCarran, or the campus at UNLV. It could be approved for Tesla fully autonomous technology to operate the pods everywhere on city streets as well.

    Las Vegas to LA is also one of the prime early HyperLoop routes so a well developed Loop system in LA could connect to one in Las Vegas to demonstrate that aspect of the system.

  9. I think he should be doing more marketing in the snowbelt states where weather has the most impact on roads.

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