Now, we have answers to some of our queries, as The Boring Company has published a new Frequently Asked Questions page on its website. Of course, Elon Musk tweeted the link, but not before getting in a groaner of a joke about the company itself (yeah, we chuckled):
What I love about The Boring Company are the low expectations. Nowhere to go but down.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 17, 2017
Let's look at a few of the enlightening answers from the FAQ page, starting with the earthquake one, because that had us scratching our heads. The page states a tunnel is a safe place to be during such an event, as "the tunnel moves uniformly with the ground, in contrast to surface structures," and isn't as susceptible to falling debris. It then lists three examples – including in LA – where tunnels were undamaged by major earthquakes. In two of the quakes, the tunnels were then used by rescue crews to get around.
Some benefits of using tunnels for traffic are that they're weatherproof, don't contribute to noise on the surface, and don't create physical barriers for communities. They're scalable, and can be dug in deeper layers to accommodate more traffic. For Musk's specific vision with the electric "sleds" or "skates," what would have been miles spent burning fuel will be zero-emissions travel (depending on the source of electricity). It's safer than driving. It's faster, with speeds of up to 125 miles per hour. The system can be used to move goods or people, too, and adding a vacuum shell could increase speeds using hyperloop technology.
The problem is that tunneling is expensive, currently up to $1 billion per mile according to the FAQ page. The Boring Company thinks it can reduce costs by tunneling smaller (the sleds need less room than a road) and faster, the latter through more power, more efficiently building tunnel supports, and automating the boring machines.
Finally, there's an interesting solution to a problem that doesn't seem as obvious: "What do you do with all the dirt?" The Boring Company wants to recycle it into earth bricks, which could be used to build structures, or even to line the tunnels reducing the need for concrete.