The Boring Company recently shared a new image on its official Twitter account, showing its custom-designed tunnel boring machine (TBM), Prufrock II. The image is quite interesting as it not only showed Prufrock II — it also provided a small glimpse at its successor, Prufrock III.
The Boring Company gave credit to its employees in its tweet, noting that the TBC team did a great job advancing rapid retrieval and continuous mining activities. “Prufrock II returns home after completing another Bastrop tunnel! Great job by TBC team in advancing rapid retrieval and continuous mining. And a subtle cameo by Prufrock III,” the tunneling startup wrote.
At least based on Prufrock III’s small cameo in the Boring Company’s photo, it appears that the third-generation custom tunneling machine might be ready for deployment soon. The eventual launch and performance of Prufrock III are extremely interesting, considering the company’s ambitious targets for the machine.
The Boring Company formally described Prufrock during its 2018 information session. At the time, the tunneling startup noted that Prufrock would be a fully Boring Company-designed TBM. Musk noted then that Prufrock would be about 10-15x faster than current tunnel boring machines in the market. This is partly due to the startup’s all-electric approach, which makes it easier to construct cleaner tunnels.
Prufrock’s official page on the Boring Company’s website shows that the tunnel boring machine is designed for quick projects, with the TBM designed to start tunneling within 48 hours of arrival on a digging site. It also has very lofty goals in terms of performance, with its medium-term goal exceeding “1/10 of human walking speed, which is 7 miles per day.”
That’s a pretty insane target for a tunnel boring machine. After all, a Robbins open-type TBM used in the Katoomba Carrier tunnel set several world records, posting a best day of 172.4 m (565.6 ft), a best week of 702.8 m (2,305.7 ft), and a best monthly average of 1,189 m (39,000 ft) during its operations. Such a machine would be considered very slow compared to Prufrock’s target speed.
So far, The Boring Company appears to have deployed at least one Prufrock machine to one of its commercial projects. On February 2022, the tunneling startup shared a short video of Prufrock-1 arriving at Resorts World on the Las Vegas Strip. Considering the growing scope of the Vegas Loop, The Boring Company’s Prufrock II and Prufrock III machines may very well end up helping their predecessor build out Sin City’s Loop system.