Elon Musk’s Boring Company recently concluded its first-ever ‘Not-a-Boring’ Competition, a challenge to bring in innovative concepts to boring tunnels and increasing the pace of tunneling. A University team from Munich was declared the overall winner after demonstrating their technology in Las Vegas, Boring Company announced.
Spun off on a whim to reduce traffic on the roads, Musk’s Boring Company has been pushing for new projects to demonstrate the ingenuity of the idea. A major hurdle on the road to the company’s elaborate plans is the slow pace of tunneling that is a norm in the industry but something the company wants to radically change. So, in 2020, the company announced a competition, challenging teams to “beat the snail” with new tunneling solutions.
Nearly 400 applicants answered the call, but after a thorough technical design review, only twelve applicants were shortlisted and invited to Las Vegas to demonstrate their technology. The team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), who call themselves TUM Boring, had been working on their concept for over a year and took this opportunity to showcase it to the world. The competition’s challenge was to quickly and accurately drill a tunnel that was 98 feet (30 m) long and 19.6 inches (30 cm) wide.
A safety briefing was conducted on September 8, after which it was determined that only two applicants met the required safety standards to tunnel for the entire stretch, while others were limited to a few meters. TUM Boring set to the task its tunneling machine and quickly managed to drill up to 72 feet (22 m) while the other participant, Swissloop Tunneling managed to go as deep as 59 feet (18 m).
TUM used the conventional ‘pipe jacking’ method of tunneling but modified it with a revolver pipe storage that allows for minimal downtime between pipe segments. Swissloop, on the other hand, used 3D printing to build an inner tunnel lining while it continued to dig further. For this innovative concept, the Swissloop team won the Innovation and Design award, while the micro tunneling machine, ‘Underdoge’ from the Diggeridoos at Virginia Tech won the award for the fastest launch system.
TUM Boring received the award for the ‘Best Guidance System’ as well as the overall winner prize.
What we don’t know yet though is if they “beat the snail”.