Elon Musk’s ‘Public Transit’ in Las Vegas Still Just Humans Driving Cars Slowly in a Tunnel

Elon Musk’s ‘Public Transit’ in Las Vegas Still Just Humans Driving Cars Slowly in a Tunnel

Local media outlets in Las Vegas were invited for a sneak peek of Elon Musk’s new form of ‘public transit’ on Thursday. But just how futuristic is this technology, which Musk’s Boring Company has dubbed the “Loop”? That depends how futuristic you think a car being driven slowly by a human inside of a tunnel might be.

The $US52 ($68) million Las Vegas Loop, a tunnel sitting 12.19 m underground, is about 3 km long and has three stops around the Las Vegas Convention Centre: Central Station, which is underground, as well as West Station and South Station, which are both above ground.

Mick Akers, a reporter with the Review Journal, tweeted a handful of videos showing the Boring Company’s Las Vegas transportation system in action on Thursday. And it looks pretty underwhelming, to say the least.

The videos show a Tesla car being driven by a human driver and it has a top speed of just 56 km per hour, according to the Review Journal. And while yesterday’s media preview was supposed to be a special look for Las Vegas media outlets exclusively, it sounds like reporters on the ground didn’t get much new information at all.

“Now, we’ve gotten to see a lot on this tour. Heck, I’m in a Tesla right now going through it,” reporter James Schaeffer said, trying to sound like this tour had been well worth his time.

“But there are some details that we are not so sure of… that we’re still finding out more about, like the loading and waiting procedure times and about the 16-passenger vehicles that will be coming through these tunnels,” Schaeffer continued. “Until then, we’ll just be going along for the ride like everyone else.”

Whatever happened to those 16-person vehicles? When Musk first announced the Loop, it genuinely looked like an exciting new transportation system. Musk promised that each vehicle could fit over a dozen people inside and everything was autonomous.

But it doesn’t look like much of anything is automatic anymore. You even have to tell your human driver where you want to go. The Boring Company uploaded a video to Vimeo with instructions for the Las Vegas Loop with those precise instructions.

Gif: The Boring Company/Vimeo
Gif: The Boring Company/Vimeo

The big selling point is that your 15-minute walk from one side of the convention centre to the other is shortened to “just a couple of minutes,” according to the Las Vegas Review Journal. But, again, questions about loading time are still very much up in the air.

“At full capacity the Boring Company’s Convention Centre Loop can transport 4,400 people per hour in its 62 vehicles fleet,” Akers tweeted, seemingly contradicting his colleague who reported that it’s still unclear. Gizmodo couldn’t confirm anything, given the fact that Musk is notoriously hostile to journalists and even shut down Tesla’s PR department late last year.

We still have quite a few questions that aren’t easily answered by the Boring Company’s colourful videos. And hopefully those questions will be answered when the Loop opens up, likely sometime in the next few months.

At the end of the day, what did reporters get to see on Thursday? Colourful lights. Lots of colourful lights, it would seem. And not much else. We’re not saying that Las Vegas wasted $US50 ($65) million on a stupid tunnel, but we’re not not saying that either.

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