Tesla's Las Vegas Loop System Faces Capacity and Cost Issues
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Las Vegas is an iconic party destination. If you live in this city, you might have to pay a bit more for car insurance, but you’re in one of the top tech and innovation hubs of the United States.
The Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) works with Tesla's The Boring Company (TBC) on a Loop system. As reported by TechCrunch, the system was supposed to use 60 fully to transport 4,400 passengers per hour between exhibition halls. As of now, Nevada officials have only approved 11 human-driven vehicles.
Here are the restrictions making it difficult for the Loop system to reach its targets, and the fees that TBC might face if it doesn’t.
What was Tesla’s original Loop system plan?
Tesla CEO Elon Musk took the stage at the TED conference in 2017 with a big idea on how to reduce road congestion. Tesla is digging a network of tunnels under LA, and these tunnels will work with Hyperloop, a proposed transportation system. He said the system would "propel people and freight in pod-like vehicles in a vacuum."
An elevator with an electric "car-skate" attached would lower your car into tunnels underground. The skates would transport passengers at 130 mph since there’d be no speed limits in the tunnel. The system would be an eco-friendly way to move people around quickly.
How is the Tesla Las Vegas Loop falling short?
The ambitious Loop plans have not exactly panned out. Neither the intended capacity or speeds of moving passengers have been met so far for the Las Vegas Loop. Instead of the goal of 4,400 passengers, the capacity might be limited to 1,000 at a 40 mph overall speed limit.
Nevada officials in Clark Country have set strict speed limits and restrictions. They’ve also banned the on-board collision avoidance technology, which is a driver assistance feature part of the self-driving system. These limitations will make it hard for TBC to meet their goals for the contract with Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), which owns the LVCC.
The contract was drawn up to provide fixed payments at different points, paid upon completion of specific milestones along the way. The last three milestones are related to capacity. TBC will receive $4.4 million at each of the milestones: 2,200, 3,300, and then 4,400 passengers an hour.
If capacity is limited to 1,000, TBC will be hit with costly penalties. The original contract specifies a $300,000 penalty per convention where TBC can’t move around 4,000 passengers. TBC doesn’t charge their passengers for rides, and the company would be losing out on a lot of funding on top of the fees.
What are the safety issues involved with the Loop?
Tesla's self-driving car safety record is still a debated issue and recent tragic incidents have brought it to the spotlight. Safety is a top concern for the Las Vegas Loop's operation. The County's Department of Building and Fire Prevention put the 40 mph speed restriction in place for the Loop.
Clark County also specified that the Loop must use manually driven vehicles. Musk's decision to remove radar sensors meant that Model 3 and Model Y vehicles are now removed from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration Top Safety Picks. The fire department is also concerned about battery fires and other emergencies that’d be hard to handle within the tunnels.
What impact will the Loop have on downtown Las Vegas?
Despite the bumps and setbacks, TBC is already planning to expand the system, as mentioned by TechCrunch. TBC wants to provide easier access to downtown casinos, hotels, and the airport. This would be funded by ticket sales and TBC.
The final completion date for the Las Vegas Loop remains uncertain. But the project is still an exciting glimpse into the future of transportation. While you wait, you can check out another helpful innovation: Jerry, an AI-powered car insurance broker.
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