Elon Musk's Boring Company wants to hold its first tunneling competition

Can you dig it? No seriously, can you?

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
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Eric Mack
2 min read

Inside the Boring Company's demonstration tunnel.

The Boring Company

Elon Musk's Boring Company is challenging the public to race a snail next year. 

The Tesla and SpaceX founder's side project is looking to gauge interest in a sort of tunnel boring olympics the company is dubbing its first "Not-A-Boring Competition."

"Teams will compete to bore a 30-meter (98-foot) tunnel with a cross-sectional area of 0.2 square meters (2.1 square feet)," reads the company website

Winning categories will include the fastest to complete a tunnel, the fastest to complete a tunnel and a driving surface that a remote controlled Tesla can navigate, and the most accurately bored or on-target tunnel.

Watch this: Taking a ride with Elon Musk inside Boring Company's tunnel

Musk and the Boring Company have set out to make tunnel boring more efficient, economical and fast. 

"We're working to significantly increase the speed of the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM)," explains the company FAQ. "TBMs are super slow. A snail is effectively 14 times faster than a soft-soil TBM.  Our goal is to defeat the snail in a race."

Hence, the Boring Company says competitors will be challenged to answer the question "Can you beat the snail?"

The Boring Company grew out of Musk's ambitions to revolutionize both inter- and intra-city transit using his Hyperloop and Loop designs. Hyperloop is Musk's near-supersonic tube transport that he open-sourced and a few startups have taken up developing. Loop is a underground system of tunnels that would allow commuters to bypass traffic by getting whisked beneath it on sleds moving at up to twice the speed allowed on the freeway. 

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As the above concepts rely on being able to bore a whole lot of tunnels, the Boring Company was born.

A demonstration tunnel has been completed at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, and more recently the company has been digging tunnels beneath the Las Vegas Convention Center that could open for use during conferences next year, if we ever have conferences again, that is. 

Overall, though, the promise of Loop and Hyperloop have been largely unrealized. The Boring Company is hoping that some old-fashioned competition and camaraderie among ambitious innovators might change that. First, though, it's just collecting a list of potential teams from schools and companies around the world to see if there's actually enough boring interest.