Musk completes Vegas Loop excavation

20 May 2020

Elon Musk’s Boring Company has completed the excavation of the second Vegas Loop tunnel in Las Vegas, US. Located around 10m below ground, the tunnels will eventually link the convention centre with hotels, casinos, Allegiant Stadium, the airport and eventually to Los Angeles.

Originally intended to involve superfast electric sleds on rails, Musk shelved the idea on cost grounds and now plans individualised mass transit by Tesla autonomous electric vehicles (AEVs) running at speeds of up to 155mph (248km/h).

Running AEVs will be Tesla Model X and Model 3 vehicles which can transport up to 16 passengers in a sitting and standing arrangement. Using AEVs has enabled Musk to reduce tunnel diameters to less than 4.2m which, in turn, is said to cut tunnelling costs by 3-4 times, compared to a typical one-lane road tunnel of twice the size.

Tunnelling costs can be further reduced by increasing TBM speed which The Boring Company says it can do by:

  • Tripling a TBM’s power output (with associated advances in cooling systems);
  • Continuous tunnelling with excavation and segment erection occurring in parallel;
  • Automating larger TBMs to increase efficiency and safety;
  • Replacing diesel-powered locomotives with electric, and
  • Increasing tunnelling R&D

The first public demonstration of the tunnels beneath the Las Vegas Convention Centre could take place as early as January 2021.