CES 2023 – We tested Elon Musk’s anti-traffic tunnel

CES 2023 – We tested Elon Musk's anti-traffic tunnel

Last year, Elon Musk hoped to wow the world at CES in Las Vegas with his anti-cork tunnel. But the experiment had not been very convincing, since the cars used for the occasion had quickly found themselves stuck in traffic jams. Funny for a solution supposed to decongest road traffic on the surface of large urban areas with a concept straddling the metro and the automobile.

Again offered this year to CES visitors, we therefore decided to test this device presented as futuristic by The Boring Company, the company founded by Elon Musk which manages this project. By entering the Vegas Loop station, the name given to the service in the entertainment capital, near the Central Hall, we arrive in a boarding area in a nightclub atmosphere, with a light that changes constantly. In this departure hall, it is an incessant ballet of Teslas which follow one another to transport CES visitors to the four corners of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

An experience that is not revolutionary

Once in the car, the experience isn’t much futuristic, other than driving through a tunnel that regularly changes color. But aside from this pleasing visual effect, there’s nothing technologically revolutionary about the service. And for good reason, the Tesla is driven by a driver, and the Autopilot mode, which nevertheless helped to popularize the company of Elon Musk, is not activated. Too bad for a project that was supposed to be a game-changer in terms of mobility.

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However, the absence of autonomous cars in this tunnel can be understood: the cars follow each other closely and the speed never exceeds 50 km/h. Admittedly, the Vegas Loop no longer clogs, but it does not allow you to drive very fast either. It took less than five minutes to travel the 2.4 km of the tunnel between the Central Hall and the West Hall of the Convention Center. It’s practical, but nothing more, especially when you know the promise of departure from The Boring Company.

Towards a 47 km network of tunnels in Las Vegas

Initially, the idea was to use car lifts to link the surface roads to these tunnels. Then a system of autonomous shuttles was imagined on paper to finally give way to what is currently this transport system, namely Teslas in tunnels.

Ultimately, the objective is to offer an underground robotaxis service to escape the risk of accidents generated by heavy traffic. The idea seduced the municipality of Las Vegas, which gave the green light at the end of 2021 to the construction of a network of 47 km of tunnels with 51 stations, considering a maximum capacity of 57,000 passengers per minute. Otherwise, to decongest traffic in big cities like Las Vegas, there is a device that has already proven itself for more than a century: the subway. On good terms…