July 2020 – January 2021
Driven by the desire to push today’s status quo of the tunnel boring technology, Elon Musk and his tunnel boring company “The Boring Company” announced the Not-a-Boring Competition in July 2020, challenging students from around the world to design and build a tunnel boring machine, that would bore tunnels faster than a snail could crawl. Elon Musk already hosted four SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competitions in California, all of which students from TUM won. In order to compare the machines, the teams then raced their tunnel machines at the competition finals in Las Vegas in September 2021.
Our team was founded in July 2020 right after the announcement of the competition. Since then, 60 students have been working uninterruptedly on this project full-time for over 14 months.
July 2020 – January 2021
February 2021 – April 2021
After successfully passing all design stages of the competition and finishing up the CAD work of our machine, assembly of the machine commenced in February 2021. Determined to succeed at the competition despite of the incredibly tight timeline, the team put in a herculean effort and managed to build and assemble our tunnel boring machine within 3 months at a construction hall in the north of Munich, provided to us by one of our industry partners.
May 2021 – July 2021
After fully assembling our machine, we moved the machine to one of an industry partner’s gravel plant in the north-east of Munich, where we tested our tunnel boring machine to ensure and optimize its functionality. During this time, the team was active on the testing site 7 days a week from early morning until well after midnight. In July 2021, we passed a big milestone by boring a full competition distance 30m / 98ft tunnel for the first time. Due to previous pandemic restrictions, it was also only at that time, that we were able to meet for the first time with the entire team in person. In July and after conclulding our extensive testing program, the machine was packed up and sent on its 6 week journey to the US for the competition finals.
August 20th – September 5th 2021
In mid August 2021, the machine arrived in Houston, where an 18-people large subgroup of our team took delivery of it. North of Houston, the 18-people team then continued to prepare and optimize the machine at a construction hall provided by one of our industrial partners for the last two weeks leading up to the competition. During those two weeks, the machine was checked for damage, component upgrades were installed and a full system and procedure test was run to ensure functionality after the machine had been exposed to sea air, humidity and salinity for a couple weeks. The competition preparations were concluded by successfully running a final 30m tunneling test before the machine was packed up one last time for its transport to the competition finals in Las Vegas.
September 6th – September 12th 2021
After over a year of hard work, everyone was filled with anticipation, when the competition finals started. In total, 8 other teams made it to the finals including highly regarded universities like ETH Zurich and MIT. After using the first couple days of the week to set up the machines, an extensive and challenging safety check conducted by The Boring Company followed. Out of all attending teams, only two teams passed the strict safety checks and were cleared for the tunneling race on September 12th: The ETH Zurich and TUM Boring. As September 12th came around, everyone was filled with excitement and the tunnel boring commenced.
The ETH Zurich team hadn’t finished their machine and ended up not being able to start boring and after six hours of continuous tunneling, TUM Boring was officially announced as the winner of the Not-a-Boring Competition 2021, successfully concluding more than a year and thousands of hours of hard work.