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German projects want to compete with Elon Musk in tunneling

Tunnel boring machine of the TUM Boring team. (Photo: TUM Boring)

Two teams from Germany are developing a new type of tunnel boring machine as part of a competition organized by Elon Musks Boring Company. A prototype is ready.

In December 2016, Tesla and SpaceX boss Elon Musk announced that the future would be with the new company The Boring Company to want to promote the construction of tunnel systems in order to relieve traffic above ground. Thanks to a suitable tunnel boring machine, the whole thing should be done comparatively quickly and cheaply. The first tunnels are already being built or planned. As part of a competition advertised by Musks Boring Company, teams around the world are currently trying to develop a new type of tunnel boring machine – including two German ones.

TUM Boring has finished prototypes

In the summer, when a total of twelve teams screened out of 400 applications present their results in California, two are German Projects at the start. The TUM Boring Team at the Technical University of Munich, founded by the 22-year-old mechatronics student Kilian Schmid, has already completed a first prototype. Schmid’s team has already successfully completed a test drilling, as Business Insider reports. Now an even more efficient drill is to be built for the competition.

For Schmid, who was with has started building its own tunnel boring machine in order to relieve the traffic situation in Munich, one of the biggest challenges in building the machine is the logistics. Ultimately, Schmid told Business Insider, building material had to be brought to the front of the machine and the removed material had to be transported out at the same time. In the future, tunneling should be faster and therefore cheaper. The aim of Elon Musk’s vision, which Schmid shares, is to make road traffic underground in the future electrically and autonomously.

By the way, the upcoming competition is about the participants successfully drilling a 30 meter long tunnel – if possible fast and precise. At the end of the competition, the tunnel and the roadway must offer space for a remote-controlled mini-Tesla. The tunnel should initially be only half a meter wide.

Dirt torpedo – fast, precise and flexible

In addition to the team from Munich and other large-scale teams such as MIT and ETH Zurich, the Dirt Torpedo project of DHBW (Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University) Mosbach in California is tackling the start. The initiator and team leader is Adrian Fleck. A prototype is in the works, the search for sponsors is underway, according to the DHBW Mosbach. At the end of the development of the dirt torpedo, there should be a fast, precise and flexible tunnel boring machine. There is great potential for development in areas such as navigation and propulsion. According to their own statements, the Mosbachers are also going a new way with the tunnel wall.

Meanwhile, the Technical University of Munich is an old one Known in competitions for the development of future technologies advertised by Elon Musk. The team from the Technical University of Munich, formerly Warr Hyperloop, later TUM Hyperloop, had won the Hyperloop pod competition several times in the past few years.

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