Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Boring Company's big debut -- even worse than expected.

There was never more than a vanishingly small chance of a major viable advance coming out of this show, but it was at least reasonable to hope for something cool and flashy, like an automated car sled or a ride with some heat. Instead there was nothing, A short narrow tunnel that took over a year to build, traversed by a slow-moving car with guide wheels on the side in an arrangement that sounds remarkably like one of those you-steer-em jalopies that used to be a staple of every cheesy amusement park.

I'll have more thoughts later. In the meantime, check out this rant by Albert Burneko.

Reader, dear reader, I have some great news for you. Tesla’s Elon Musk, definitely a visionary brain genius and not at all a manic idiot spaz and brazen fraud, has invented the future of mass transit for which we so desperately clamored: A narrow, jagged death-tunnel through which, uh, one Tesla-brand car at a time can, ah, drive ... the person who owns it, plus maybe two or three other people ... from one place to another ... at 49 miles per hour.

Okay so wait, I think I’m explaining it wrong. Picture this! It’s, it’s, you see, it’s a subway, only instead of trains filled with many dozens or hundreds of people at a time, riding through a grid of large tunnels, in a grand choreographed underground ballet capable of moving tens or hundreds of thousands of riders per hour, it’s ... Tesla-brand cars ... with their owners and maybe a couple other people ... driving at moderate speed ... through narrow, bumpy tunnels with no emergency exits.
No, goddammit, no, stop looking at me like that, it’s revolutionary technology. It’s high-speed rail, is the thing—only without the high speed, and with the “rail” part kind of arbitrarily added onto what’s otherwise just a single-lane Tesla-only subterranean roadway, for the purpose of securing public investment in it by calling it “mass transit” and not “driving a car from here to there.” And at either end of the trip, instead of just walking into or out of a train station you have to navigate your entire Tesla-brand autonomous electric car down or up a single-car elevator. Also each “train” can only carry as many people as can fit into a single Tesla-brand autonomous electric car.

People invented subway trains like 150 years ago, man, you’re saying now. This guy just invented a comically slow-moving conveyor belt for his other company’s cars. Literally the only innovation here is that it’s a worse version of both driving and riding the subway, and only available to people who’ve bought one brand of car. Yes. True. Wait. No. It’s innovative! It’s a solution to the problem of traffic, because now, merely by purchasing a Tesla-brand autonomous electric vehicle and outfitting it with special retractable side-wheels, Tesla owners can bypass gridlock and choose instead to spend their time sitting in the insanely slow-moving line outside of this dumb tunnel, waiting for their turn to go through it, one car at a time.

This isn’t even a good idea for Tesla drivers, you’re saying now. Why would anyone want to make use of this dumb tunnel. We haven’t even really gotten into how even in the press demonstration, it was such an uncomfortable ride that the Washington Post reporter described, in an otherwise not particularly hostile article, as not “an experience you’d tolerate from a public subway service” and which the Los Angeles Times likened to “driving on a dirt road.” Or the danger the stupid aftermarket retractable sideways wheels could pose to other drivers and their ordinary cars if they malfunction. Or the fact that Tesla cars are infamously prone to bursting into flames, which makes them uniquely unsuited to being driven through narrow bumpy tunnels with no room for fire trucks or emergency exits. Or how the planned tunnels are so narrow that even opening a car door inside one looks like a dodgy proposition. Or how even just at the highest conceptual level this is an obviously dumb and pointless idea that even in the absolute best case—which it isn’t presently aiming for—would be redundant to and/or worse than existing rapid-transit rail systems that do not require their riders to own Tesla cars. You’re being a little bit of a jerk right now, to be honest. Why can’t you just get on board with innovation?

No comments:

Post a Comment