TUM Boring – Innovation in Tunneling: A Tunnel Machine Faster Than a Snail

Small Tunnel Boring Machine, Picture: TUM Boring – Innovation in Tunneling

Being faster than a snail is truly an innovation in tunneling. TUM Boring – Innovation in Tunneling is an initiative of the Technical University of Munich consisting of 60 highly motivated students who have teamed up to innovate tunneling towards a greener future by developing the fastest and fully functional Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM). Along with their vision TUM Boring also participates in the first Not-a-Boring Competition by Elon Musk’s The Boring Company. The goal is to design and build a Tunnel Boring Machine that tunnels faster than a snail crawls and accelerate the transition to three-dimensional transportation.

Today’s problem with mobility and transportation is the steadily increasing traffic and the global demand for new technologies to improve urban mobility. The mission of TUM Boring is to revolutionize urban mobility by building the world’s fastest tunnel boring machine and to compete in the Not-a-Boring Competition, which was announced by Elon Musk last summer. The competition, hosted by The Boring Company, challenges teams from around the world to drill a 30m long and 50cm wide tunnel as quickly and accurately as possible. TUM Boring hopes to tunnel faster than a garden snail, which is a lot faster than the current industry average. The TUM Boring Machine is designed for automation and equipped with sensors and cameras, which makes it very safe and precise. Furthermore, TUM Boring tries to keep its footprint as minimal as possible in terms of noise level, space and pollution.

The Team, Picture: TUM Boring – Innovation in Tunneling

In 2019, even before the Not-a-Boring Competition was announced, the core team started exploring the world of tunneling in their own garden with a self-made tunnel boring machine (TBM) called “Smōl TBM”. As soon as the Not-a-Boring Competition was announced in July 2020, the team was determined to participate. The first breakthrough was in early October 2020, when the first machine Smōl TBM was finished and the first tunnel was successfully dug. Shortly afterwards, 50 students joined the team. The current team consists of sixty students from 16 countries and 16 different faculties, who received the most prestigious scholarships and awards, led international voluntary projects, founded their own companies, gained work experience at renowned firms (including Tesla, BMW, Google, and Siemens), developed robots, apps, and have now joined forces to shape the future of mobility. Eight of them are students at the TUM School of Management: Marvin von Hagen, Daniel Pflüger, Louis Jabbour, Dmitry Burlakow, Torben Leowald, Katharina Prantl, Max Herbst and Vincent Adler.

After the final design for the TBM was approved by The Boring Company, TUM Boring was officially accepted to take part in the finals competition in California this summer. But the plans for the future of TUM Boring go beyond the competition. TUM Boring plans to finalize the tunnel boring machine in order to dig tunnels in an unprecedentedly quick and safe manner and revolutionize urban mobility.



Are you interested in joining TUM Boring?

TUM Boring offers project studies for TUM SOM students. For more information see here.

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