Zurich - Swissloop Tunneling has achieved second place at Elon Musk’s tunneling competition in Las Vegas. The official team of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH) also won the innovation and design award for its tunnel tube using 3D printing.

ETH students impress at tunneling competition
The team members of Swissloop Tunneling with their tunnel boring machine "Groundhog Alpha". Image: Janick Entremont

The official team of the ETH, called Swissloop Tunneling, was successful at the tunneling competition run by the CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk. It was awarded second place by Musk’s The Boring Company in the Nevada desert in a competition entitled “Not-A-Boring-Competition”.

Out of 400 applicants, only twelve were invited to the final in Las Vegas, where the Swissloop Tunneling team of 40 students were only beaten by one team – that of the Technical University of Munich. According to a press release from the ETH, TUM Boring tunneled slightly further underground. They won with a tunnel spanning over 18 meters.

The task had been to build small-scale tunneling machines that would be able to dig a stable tunnel at a length of 30 meters and a diameter of 50 centimeters. Swissloop Tunneling competed with Groundhog Alpha, a seven-meter-long tunneling machine weighing 2.5 metric tons.

As Swissloop Tunneling also explains in a video, while tunneling its machine simultaneously 3D-prints a stable tunnel tube. The Swiss team also received the innovation and design award for this in Las Vegas. Stefan Kaspar, Founder and President of Swissloop Tunneling, says: “This award validates our approach of taking the sometimes difficult but purposely innovative path.”

According to information from the ETH, the team plans to further develop its technology so that its machine can dig tunnels with a diameter of four meters. This is the width of the tubes for the proposed high-speed hyperloop transportation system. The idea for this comes from Elon Musk and has been modified by Richard Branson’s company Virgin Hyperloop. The transport capsules using magnetic levitation are planned to be in commercial operation from 2030, taking people from New York to Washington D.C. in just 30 minutes.

Watch the video

See how the machine simultaneously 3D-prints a stable tunnel tube while tunneling:

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