The Boring Company is testing its ‘Teslas in Tunnels’ system in Las Vegas

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Elon Musk’s Boring Company started transporting passengers this week through the twin tunnels it built under the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) as part of a test to get the system ready for its full debut in June .

Videos, Pictures, and accounts shared on the Web by the people who showed up for the test provide the most cohesive look yet at Musk’s solution for traversing the LVCC campus. It’s literally just Teslas being driven through two 1.3-kilometer tunnels – a far cry from the autonomous sled-and-shuttle ideas Musk once proposed for The Boring Company.

There are three stops for the “LVCC Loop” system. The stations at both ends are above ground, while the one in the center is at the same depth of 9 meters as the tunnels. The Boring Company used several dozen Tesla vehicles during the test, including Model 3 sedans and Model Y and Model X SUVs. While the company has talked about letting drivers call for cars using an app, they only needed to walk to the next available car for the test. Test drivers then stepped in, went to one of the other two stations and repeated. It appears that most riders completed between seven or eight to 12 rides during the test.

Schlepping from one end of the LVCC campus is no mean feat on foot, especially after the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) recently added an entirely new wing. Taxi lines and waiting times for rides are also notoriously long. So any solution that makes it easier to get around the property is likely to appeal to convention attendees, even if the facility costs the LVCVA $ 52.5 million ($ 48.6 million of which to The Boring Company).

The Boring Company says the Loop will eventually turn a 45-minute walk into a two-minute ride, although it’s not up to that level of efficiency yet (hence the test). In one video, one of the test drivers said they had to wait about three to five minutes for a few rides, although even with a top speed of about 40 miles per hour, rides between stations appear to have taken about a minute. a minute and a half.

One of the reasons the total travel time increased was the metro station. There were times when test drivers drove into the station just to find themselves in a traffic jam. The drivers have to maneuver around other parked Teslas, people getting in and out, and cars queuing to re-enter the tunnels. It’s tight.

There was also only some general confusion as people got used to how the system worked. Passengers were constantly reminded to leave the doors open when exiting the vehicle to speed up the transition to the next journey. One person got bonked on the head through one of Model X’s Falcon Wing doors.

The big question with The Boring Company’s Las Vegas efforts is much the same as always with Musk’s ideas: how will it scale up? The company says it plans to eventually move 4,400 people per hour through the tunnels of the LVCC Loop, although TechCrunch found documents late last year showing that it can only transport 1,200. Beyond the LVCC Loop, The Boring Company wants to build a massive tunnel system that runs under the entire city, including the Las Vegas Strip and the airport. It claims this massively scaled-up version of its underground highway will be able to handle just over 50,000 passengers per hour.

The Boring Company has claimed it plans to allow a maximum speed of 150 miles per hour in these tunnels, but has limited speeds during the tests so far. And while the goal is to eventually let the Teslas drive themselves, the system will rely on human drivers for the foreseeable future.

Reaching that top speed is one of the most important things The Boring Company says it has its idea “Teslas in Tunnels” apart from, for example, a metro system. (Another is the cost, which we saw in the most recent Miami proposal.) It probably won’t be feasible unless the company is able to automate driving because the tunnels are too tight for a human driver. continuously (and gently) navigating at such high speeds – another thing that became apparent from the videos of the test.