LAFAYETTE, Colo. — What may be the future of transportation is getting built by a group of University of Colorado Boulder students.
"That competition is to dig a 30-meter-long, half-meter wide tunnel and at least one and a half meters below the Earth as fast as you possibly can," CU Hyperloop project manager Daniel Wagner said.
These engineers-in-the-making believe their tunnel boring machine can do that.
"Right now, it takes weeks to drill about a mile. We're hoping that we could get that down to maybe a day to drill a mile and then, eventually, bring it down to hours," Wagner said.
The team with the winning design and build could eventually help pave the way for high-speed tunnel infrastructure being developed by The Boring Company, which was founded by Elon Musk.
The tunnel infrastructure could, for example, allow you to travel from Denver to Breckenridge in about 30 minutes, Wagner said.
"If we're able to build those tunnels effectively, quickly and cheaply, then that's going to revolutionize how we do things," deputy project manager Ahmed Adam said, who's a junior at CU Boulder.
It's a solution Colorado could use right now, with mudslides and debris flows closing I-70 in Glenwood Canyon multiple times this year. An underground tunnel route could avoid all of that.
"If you were able to open up more tunnels along I-70, or a whole new highway in addition to I-70, that would absolutely speed up transportation," Wagner said.
As with most Elon Musk projects, when and where this competition is taking place is a secret for now.
But these students are ready to bring the best of Colorado onto a worldwide stage that could change how we all get around.