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Elon Musk shows off Boring Company test tunnel

Boring Company tunnel
A Tesla Model X electric car with retractable wheel gear sits inside the Boring Company’s test tunnel. The company’s billionaire founder, Elon Musk, says the apparatus turns the car into a “rail-guided train.” (Elon Musk via Twitter)

The Boring Company’s hole in the ground in Hawthorne, Calif., got a Hollywood-style debut tonight courtesy of the company’s billionaire founder, Elon Musk.

Musk stood just outside a 1.14-mile-long test tunnel, illuminated in blue light, and spoke glowingly to a VIP crowd about how tunnels could turn the “soul-crushing” gridlock of urban traffic into a sci-fi experience.

“They’re sort of like wormholes,” he said. “You’re driving around, you think, ugh, I need to get to the other side of L.A., New York, whatever. Drop down the wormhole, pshew, pop out the other side and you just drive normally. I think this is, like, really a panacea.”

Tonight’s first tours served as a curtain-raiser for Musk’s Loop concept, which involves building a 3-D network of tunnels, elevators and ramps  — and then sending autonomous electric cars equipped with retractable guide wheels zipping through those tunnels at speeds of up to 150 mph.

That’s a departure from Musk’s previous idea of using custom-built “skates” to carry cars and people.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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