It sounded like something out of science fiction: people being whisked through a busy American city in tunnels – in driverless vehicles, reaching speeds of up to 155mph.
But the reality seems to be far less exciting with the first look of Elon Musk’s public transportation system in Las Vegas having been unveiled to lackluster reviews.
Instead of the futuristic cars zipping people from place to place, it is regular Tesla vehicles, being driven by humans trundling through a tunnel at just 35mph – although the lighting is colorful and flashy.
And it isn’t clear if the system will ever develop into anything more like what was promised, as Musk’s company didn’t answer questions from the media.
Elon Musk’s Boring Company has unveiled its Vegas Loop at the city’s convention center, where plain old Teslas are being driven – by people – through tunnels at 35 mph. The project was initially billed as featuring driverless cars reaching 155 mph
The $52.5 million loop, which includes two one-way vehicle tunnels 40 feet beneath the ground and three passenger stations, will take convention attendees across a 200-acre convention campus for free in all-electric Tesla vehicles in two minutes
A Tesla Model X is parked in the Central Station during a media preview of the Las Vegas Convention Center Loop
Tesla cars are shown in the Central Station during a media preview of the Las Vegas Convention Center Loop on Friday
‘We simplified this a lot. It’s basically just Teslas in tunnels at this point, which is way more profound than it sounds,’ he wrote Elon Musk wrote in a tweet last October
Musk’s underground transportation system located beneath the Las Vegas Convention Center campus was supposed to serve as a quick way to move convention attendees throughout the 200-acre campus, 40 feet beneath the ground in all-electric Tesla vehicles.
But the unveiling has led to both disappointing and lackluster reviews.
‘Elon Musk’s ‘Public Transit’ in Las Vegas Still Just Humans Driving Cars Slowly in a Tunnel,’ wrote tech website Gizmodo.
‘Elon Musk’s Dumb Tesla Tunnel Now The Lamest Thing In Las Vegas!’ added tech and motoring site Jalopnik,.
‘It’s about as exciting as a sheet of unpainted drywall discarded in a closed office park. It’s just some Tesla Model 3s driving slowly in a tube,’ wrote Jason Torchinsky. ‘All this really is are some Teslas driving in tunnels lined with LED lights.
It is something that Musk appears to agree with. ‘We simplified this a lot. It’s basically just Teslas in tunnels at this point, which is way more profound than it sounds,’ he wrote in a tweet last October.
CNET’s Roadshow similarly declared the tunnel to be ‘lame’.
‘It seems like this project is quickly turning into Tesla cars driving people underground, rather than some sort of futuristic transport system. Unfortunately, for now, it looks sort of disappointing.’ wrote Sean Szymkowski in his review of the system.
‘The tunneling remains the most impressive thing about the project, with both tunnels completely excavated this past May. However, the rest of the process seems to boil down to a ride in a Model 3.’
The project has cost $55 million with plans to expand to other areas of the city
The Las Vegas Convention Center Loop is an underground transportation system that is the first commercial project by Elon Musk’s The Boring Company
The creation of the underground transportation system was born out of Musk’s desire to solve the problem of traffic gridlock
The LVCVA moved from board approval to the excavation of both tunnels in less than one year, and fully developing the system in a year and a half
Twitter users were also far from impressed at the great unveil.
‘Vegas actually let Elon Musk make a less efficient subway system…’, wrote one user. ‘They really let him make a subsidized Tesla advertisement.’
‘You conned 53M for Vegas Circus Tunnel Ride,’ wadded another user.
‘This is so ridiculously stupid. The reasons why your Las Vegas Loop sucks so much, apart from being a retarded idea, is that your Teslas with no Lidar and only beta lvl 2 ADAS, won’t be trusted to drive automatically at 35mph in a tunnel lol,’ wrote Omen Sulk.
‘Watch Teslas slowly move through Elon Musk’s new Boring Company tunnel under Las Vegas. Cause it’s a crappy Disney Ride,’ tweeted Robert Hynes with a video of the vehicles.
Twitter users were far from impressed at the great unveil and gently mocked the entire scheme online
The Loop system includes a command center ‘to monitor the system to assure a safe and comfortable experience’
The tunnels measure 13.5 feet outer diameter and 12 feet inner diameter
The $52.5 million loop includes two one-way vehicle tunnels running 40ft beneath the ground and three passenger stations
Costing $52.5 million, the Boring Construction Company has built two one-way, 0.8-mile tunnels and three passenger stations which connects the existing convention center campus to the 1.4 million square foot West Hall expansion.
Ultimately, the system will allow for up to 4,400 convention attendees per hour to be whisked across the sprawling campus in just under two minutes. It’s a journey which on foot would take approximately 25 minutes.
Early plans for the system depicted vehicles that could carry 16 people at once but for now, it is regular electric Model 3 and Model X Tesla cars providing the rides.
The vehicles only travel at 35-40 mph because of the short distance of the tunnels rather than the 150mph they might be capable.
Early plans for the system depicted vehicles that could carry 16 people at once but for now, it is regular electric Model 3 and Model X Tesla cars providing the rides
The cars will take convention attendees across the 200-acre convention campus for free in all-electric Tesla vehicles in under two minutes
The system is designed to carry 4,400 people per hour using a fleet of 62 vehicles at maximum capacity
If nothing else, the lighting is particularly impressive
Cars are lines up ready to whisk people across from one side of the Las Vegas convention center to the the other
Tesla cars drive in the Central Station during a media preview of the Las Vegas Convention Center Loop
A Tesla car drives through the West Station near the Las Vegas Convention Center West Hall expansion during a media preview of the Las Vegas Convention Center Loop on Friday
Furthermore, the system will be staffed with drivers instead of them operating autonomously.
When fully up and running, the system is designed to transport up to 4,400 people per hour in more than 60 cars under the 200-acre campus, authority officials said.
‘We are excited to have partnered with Elon’s company to bring this transportation ‘first’ to our valued convention customers,’ said Steve Hill, LVCVA president and CEO. ‘The expanded Loop system, when developed, will be a game-changer and a new ‘must experience’ attraction for our visitors.’
‘We’re grateful to LVCVA and all local stakeholders for providing us the opportunity to construct our first commercial project in one of the world’s most dynamic destinations,’ added Steve Davis, president of The Boring Company. ‘We are proud to have developed and delivered an exciting transportation solution to the Las Vegas Convention Center.’
There’s no sign of the vehicles which the original plans promised to take passengers in driverless Tesla vehicles that would hold up to 16 people from one side of the campus to the other traveling at up to 155mph
A computer model of the Las Vegas tunnel, which will transport passengers in small, autonomous vehicles, each holding eight to 16 passengers although there is no sign of this yet
The creation of the underground transportation system was born out of Musk’s desire to solve the problem of traffic gridlock and the company has been focused.
As a result, the company is focused on building low-cost, fast-to-build underground transportation systems to alleviate traffic congestion.
The LVCVA has constructed and fully developed the system less than two-and-a-half years.
Aside from the Boring Company’s high-speed loop tunnel, the city of Las Vegas also received proposals to build trams, gondolas and monorails.
‘Las Vegas is a high-energy, high-technology destination equipped to welcome the world, and we are excited to deliver a system that will help visitors efficiently navigate the city’s many offerings,’ said Davis, president of The Boring Company, in a statement.
The 0.8 mile tunnel runs from the Convention Center to the city’s famous Strip – but could be expanded in the future
Musk has also advocated for a futuristic underground tunnel system for trains, called the Hyperloop, which would allow passenger capsules on Tesla-built chassis to move through low-pressure tubes at high speeds.
He aspires eventually to build such a system linking Washington and New York along the busy US Northeast corridor; he has also proposed projects for Chicago and Los Angeles.
The billionaire hopes Boring’s people-moving technology will help revolutionize urban transit in an ever more crowded world.
He says the idea came to him as he sat in growing frustration in his car, stuck in a traffic jam between his pricey villa in Bel Air, California and the SpaceX offices in Hawthorne, south of Los Angeles.
Musk has long advocated a futuristic underground train system, called the Hyperloop, that would allow passenger capsules on Tesla-built chassis to move through low-pressure tubes at high speeds
Musk’s Twitter followers said they would be interested in more ‘super safe earthquake-proof tunnels’ for emission free vehicles. The Los Angeles test tunnel is pictured
Sketches of a hyperloop test track in Europe, which could allow passengers to travel from Amsterdam to Frankfurt, about 270 miles, in as little as 50 minutes
WHAT IS THE HYPERLOOP?
Hyperloop is a proposed method of travel that would transport people at roughly 700mph between distant locations.
It was unveiled by Elon Musk in 2013, who at the time said it could take passengers the 380 miles (610km) from LA to San Francisco in 30 minutes – half the time it takes a plane.
It is essentially a long tube that has had the air removed to create a vacuum. For safety reasons, Hyperloop tunnels need escape hatches in case of fire.
The tube is suspended off the ground to protect against weather and earthquakes.
There are now a number of firms vying to bring the technology to life, including Elon Musk himself, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, and Virgin Hyperloop One.
As several firms vie to create the first operational Hyperloop, Elon Musk’s vision of a radical transport system that could ferry passengers above land at 760 miles per hour continues to inch closer to reality