Tesla in the tunnel: Passengers have been able to ride in Las Vegas since Tuesday (archive image)
Photo: Robyn Beck / AFP
Suddenly the name says it all. Tesla founder Elon Musk once named his tunneling company "The Boring Company", a play on words made up of "drill" and "boring". With supposedly revolutionary technologies, the start-up is supposed to build tunnels faster and cheaper than the traditional competition and thus create the infrastructure for the future Hyperloop, the high-speed tube system in which the passengers in capsules jet to their destination underground. Short-haul flights should one day become superfluous.
There seems to be a long way to go before then. In Las Vegas, after a series of tests, the first tunnel system went into everyday operation in May. It's 2.7 kilometers long, cost around $ 52 million, and took 18 months to build. It's under the huge fairgrounds of the Las Vegas Convention Center. A congress will take place there this week for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. Instead of walking, since Tuesday the participants have been able to get from A to B underground - in Tesla cars. Passengers get on and off at stops.
The original plan was for users to call the robot cars to them via an app. For the time being, however, real drivers are behind the wheel and people are simply waiting at the stops for the shuttles, according to test users. Instead of walking around the site for 20 minutes, the time for the same route is shortened to two minutes. According to the US media, the planned capacity of 62 taxis, which can transport 4,400 passengers per hour, is still a long way off. Shuttle buses or rail vehicles would probably be the more efficient means of transport.
Even in the US media, which has been reporting very enthusiastically so far, skepticism is growing.
For months, mayors from half the country had personally watched the construction progress in Las Vegas.
Plans for Los Angeles and Washington were made and later dropped.
Cities in Florida, on the other hand, are still in concrete talks with Musk.
The initial nervousness of the traditional tunnel builders in view of the cocky announcements by Musk has long since subsided.
The German world market leader in tunnel construction, Martin Herrenknecht, told Manager Magazin in February: “For his reference project in Las Vegas, Musk drilled 20 meters in one week.
We can do the same route in one day.
Technically, that's still a long way from us. "