The Boring Company doesn’t sound so boring anymore

Check out this Tesla Model X as it gives the Boring tunnels a test drive

The founder of SpaceX and Tesla is accustomed to flashy enterprises and larger-than-life dreams (that all seem to be coming to fruition), and now, he’s turning his attention to a simple problem that plagues all of us: Traffic. Because why shouldn’t it take us 29 minutes to get from New York to Washington D.C.? With Musk’s Boring Company, this could be our new reality.

A look at just how (not) boring the Boring Company really is

Just hours after the Boring Company received permission to build its most ambitious project yet in Chicago, Musk took to YouTube to share what appears to be the first full-scale test of a vehicle zooming through one of the company’s now-famous tunnels.

The video, aptly titled Model X Test Run, shows a Tesla Model X being moved through a tunnel underneath Los Angeles in much the way the team has previously described — the car itself doesn’t move, but rather is placed on two parallel tracks that appear to propel the car forward through the cavernous underground space. This particular Model X didn’t seem to be hauling along at supersonic speeds, but hey — one step at a time, right?

Boring in Chicago

It’s not just our nation’s capital where work is being done. In June 2018, the mayor’s office of Chicago announced that the Boring Company had been tapped to begin construction on a tunnel to link O’Hare International airport and downtown Chicago. In total, this project will be comprised of 18 miles of rail for the self-driving, 16-passenger cars that are capable of hitting top speeds of 150 miles per hour. It also represents the largest contract the Boring Company has secured thus far.

While it’s unclear when construction will be finished (or how much it will cost), current plans suggest that it would take just 12 minutes to get from the Loop in downtown Chicago to O’Hare airport. The proposed ticket price is currently somewhere in the $20 to $25 range.

A nearly complete tunnel in LA

Back in May, Musk revealed that the Boring Company’s very first tunnel was nearly complete. The 2.7-mile long route is in Los Angeles, and on May 10, the entrepreneur shared a video of the tunnel on Instagram.

“Pending final regulatory approvals, we will be offering free rides to the public in a few months,” he noted. “As mentioned in prior posts, once fully operational (demo system rides will be free), the system will always give priority to pods for pedestrians & cyclists for less than the cost of a bus ticket.” The Los Angeles Times further noted that the route is “parallel to Sepulveda Boulevard, starting at Pico Boulevard and running down to Washington Boulevard in Culver City,” and that the tunnel itself is 30 to 70 feet underground.

A sneak peek at what’s boring

Previously, in March, Musk teased us with a quick look at what the future of transportation might look like. In a series of tweet, the executive noted that the Boring Company would focus on shuttles rather than cars, and will move both people and bicycles from Point A to Point B. This, Musk says, will aid in the company’s aim to “prioritize pedestrians [and] cyclists over cars.” This is a matter of “courtesy and fairness,” the entrepreneur tweeted. “If someone can’t afford a car, they should go first.”

In total, the Boring Company’s urban loop system will have thousands of stations about the size of a standard parking space that will take riders to their destinations, but will “blend seamlessly into the fabric of a city.”

From D.C. to New York in 30 minutes

2018 as a whole has been an exciting one for the Boring Company. At the beginning of the year, the Washington Post reported, “The Boring Company team has received an early, and vague, building permit from the D.C. government that will allow some preparatory and excavation work at the fenced-off parking lot at 53 New York Avenue NE beside a McDonald’s and amid the construction cranes of Washington’s booming NoMa neighborhood.” A spokesperson for the company also noted that “a New York Avenue location, if constructed, could become a station.”

The approval came a few months after Musk received approval to begin digging in Maryland, which will be one of the stops along the new northeastern route. The state gave Musk the go-ahead to begin digging a 10.3-mile tunnel beneath the Baltimore-Washington Parkway in October, marking the first part of the New York to D.C. route.

“This thing is real. It’s exciting to see,” Maryland transportation secretary Pete Rahn said at the time. “The word ‘transformational’ may be overused, but this is a technology that leapfrogs any technology that is out there today. And it’s going to be here.”

The beginnings of the Boring Company

So how did it all start? Obviously, the man who conceptualized the Hyperloop has never had the patience for sitting in gridlock, and in December 2016, the entrepreneur took to Twitter to express his frustration, and more important, his solution. “Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging…” he wrote cryptically on December 17 of last year. And just for good measure, he added later, “I am actually going to do this.”

The tunnels for the Boring Company began “across from [Musk’s] desk at SpaceX,” which is located near “Crenshaw and the 105 Freeway,” about five minutes from LAX, Musk said at the time. He’s also addressed concerns about earthquakes, noting that these natural phenomena “tend to have the biggest effect on the surface, like waves on water. That’s why LA can have a (lame, but getting better) subway.”

In late April 2017, he spoke at a TED conference where he outlined more concrete plans for his underground company. Per a concept video, Musk intends to drop cars (gently, of course), beneath Earth’s surface by way of a system of elevator platforms. Cars will drive onto designated areas, which will then be lowered beneath the ground. Once underground, however, the cars won’t be driving themselves. Rather, they will be controlled autonomously by the system at large and sent to their final destinations at speeds of up to 130 miles per hour.

Fingers crossed, we’ll soon be able to put Musk’s claims to the tests. And honestly, anything that can help us east coasters avoid the horrendous traffic that is the northeastern corridor is a win in our book.

Updated on June 17: Added news that the Boring Company has tested one of its tunnels in LA with a Tesla Model X. 

Emerging Tech

A river of stars one billion years old flows across the southern sky

Astronomers have identified a river of stars flowing across our galaxy and covering most of the southern sky. The estimated 4000 stars that comprise the stream were born together and have been moving together for the last one billion years.

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Smart Home

Need to dry your locks? Here are the best hairdryers in every price range

Whether your hair is straight, wavy, long, or short, a hairdryer can make life easier (and get you dry quickly). Here are some of the best hairdryers on the market, with different price points.
Emerging Tech

Of all the vape pens in the world, these 5 are the best

Vaping concentrates has become significantly more popular, especially among those that use cannabis for medicinal purposes. But don’t use just any vape pen: we found these five devices to be our favorites in 2018.

The HoloLens 2 will be announced at MWC. Here's what we know about it so far

The HoloLens 2 is ripe for an announcement. Here's what Microsoft has revealed so far, what's likely in store for the next generation HoloLens, and everything that we know about this mixed reality headset.
Emerging Tech

Descending at an angle could be key to landing heavier craft on Mars

Landing on Mars is a challenge: The heavier the craft, the more difficult a safe landing becomes. Scientists propose using retropropulsion engines and angling the craft to create a pressure differential to land heavier crafts in the future.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Ant-inspired walking robot navigates without GPS by using polarized light

What do you get if you cross Boston Dynamics and Ant-Man? You get Antbot, a robot from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) which uses ant-like navigation to move around without the aid of GPS.
Emerging Tech

InSight’s heat probe will dig 16 feet beneath the surface of Mars

New images from NASA's InSight mission to Mars have confirmed that the lander succeeded in setting the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package instrument onto the surface, from where a self-hammering spike will burrow downwards.
Emerging Tech

White spots on Ceres are evidence of ancient ice volcanoes erupting

Scientists are pouring over data collected by NASA's Dawn mission to learn about the dwarf planet Ceres and the bright white spots observed at the bottom of impact craters. They believe that these spots are evidence of ice volcanoes.
Emerging Tech

NASA to launch SPHEREx mission to investigate the origins of our universe

NASA is launching an ambitious mission to map the entire sky to understand the origins of the universe. The Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer (SPHEREx) mission will launch in 2023.
Emerging Tech

Probes exploring Earth’s hazardous radiation belts enter final phase of life

The Van Allen probes have been exploring the radiation belts around Earth for seven years. Now the probes are moving into the final phase of their exploration, coming closer to Earth to gather more data before burning up in the atmosphere.
Emerging Tech

How can digital art created on obsolete platforms be preserved?

As the lines between art and technology continue to blur, digital art experiences become more commonplace. But these developments are raising an important question for art conservationists: How should digital artworks be preserved?
Emerging Tech

Statistician raises red flag about reliability of machine learning techniques

Machine learning is everywhere in science and technology. But how reliable are these techniques really? A statistician argues that questions of accuracy and reproducibility of machine learning have not been fully addressed.