The financial pickle facing Elon Musk’s Las Vegas Loop system – TechCrunch

The financial pickle facing Elon Musk’s Las Vegas Loop system – ClearTips

Restrictions imposed The LVCC loop by Nevada regulators for The Boring Company (TBC) is making it difficult for Elon Musk’s first underground transportation system to meet contractual targets.

The loop system at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) must use more than 60 fully autonomous high-speed vehicles to carry 4,400 passengers an hour between exhibit halls. However, ClearTips has been told that Clark County regulators have so far approved only 11 manned vehicles, setting strict speed limits and restricting the use of on-board collision avoidance technology that Tesla’s “Complete self-driving” is part of Autopilot Advanced. Driver Assistance System. Tesla’s autopilot system does not technically rise to the level of fully autonomous, even though it is branded as such. It is believed – even internally, according to exchanges between Tesla and California regulators – to have an advanced driver assistance system that can automate certain tasks.

The LVCC parent body, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, created a contract aimed at encouraging Musk and fulfilling the promises. The contract is for a fixed price, and TBC must hit specific milestones to receive all its payments. The contract provides for payment at various points in the process, such as completing bare tunnels, the entire working system, finishing a The test period and safety report and then its performance can carry passengers. The final three milestones relate to how many passengers it can carry. If Loop can demonstrate carrying 2,200 passengers an hour, TBC will receive $ 4.4 million, then the same payment to reach 3,300, and the same payment for 4,400 passengers an hour. Overall, these capacity payments represent 30% of fixed-price contracts.

Instead of carrying more than 4,000 passengers an hour, the constrained system can limit capacity to less than 1,000, causing TBC to face heavy penalties for losing contracted targets. TBC does not charge passengers (ride is free).

For example, according to a management agreement obtained by ClearTips, during large trade shows such as CES, LVCC will pay TBC $ 30,000 each day to operate and manage the system. However, the original contract signed by TBC in 2019 specifies a penalty of $ 300,000 for each major conference where TBC cannot transfer approximately 4,000 people per hour.

This means that over the course of a three or four day event, TBC incurs losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars above and beyond the cost of running the system. In a typical pre-pandemic year, LVCC will host about a dozen such large shows. It is not clear whether TBC plans on other means of earning money such as revenue from advertising in its cars.

This capacity issue is already costing TBC money. The contract states that if TBC misses its performance target by such a difference, Musk’s company will not receive more than $ 13 million of its construction budget. The Convention Center Authority confirmed to ClearTips that, according to its contract, it is withholding that construction fee until TBC can relocate thousands of people in an hour.

As per the agreement, the smaller shows, which number around 20 per year, have no capacity penalty, but TBC only gets a very low fee of $ 11,500 per day. TBC also receives a monthly payment of $ 18,000 to keep the system running, no matter how many conventions are in operation.

This week Loop’s capacity test reportedly involved only 300 people; A convention center official said the figure of 4,400 people per hour was “well within our sight”.

As per the management agreement, along with its own team of human drivers, TBC has to provide an operations center and a maintenance and charging facility, and uniformed customer service personnel, security staff and a full-time resident manager.

By the end of 2021, the fee structure is scheduled to be renegotiated to include the “expected transition to autonomous vehicle operations” – possibly downstream.

Image Credit: Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Collision warning out

Some restrictions on the initial operation of the loop came from the Clark County Department of Building and Fire Prevention. These reportedly include an overall speed limit of 40 mph, which falls to 10 mph within each of the loop’s three stations, and a ban on just 11 vehicles.

Clark County Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief Warren Whitney said that TBC had told him the company was not allowed to use Tesla’s collision warning system within the loop. A Transportation Systems certificate issued by Clark County this week specified that Loop should use “non-autonomous” “manually operated” vehicles. It was issued for the planned 62 vehicles. Neither Clark County officials nor TBC answered detailed questions on operational restrictions, nor indicated when or when they could be removed.

Toyota previously warned that its radar-based collision warning system may not function properly within the tunnels.

It is unclear whether Tesla is capable of safe and “fully autonomous operations” without its collision-warning radar, although Musk suggested – and now executes on a plan – to remove radar sensors from their vehicles and only To use cameras. Tesla began delivery of Model 3 and Model Y vehicles in May, which do not have radar sensors. The lack of radar sensors has prompted the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration to say that Model 3 and Model Y vehicles built on or after April 27, 2021, now receive automatic emergency braking, forward collision warnings, lane departure The agency’s check mark will not be received. Warning and dynamic brake support. The decision prompted Consumer Reports to no longer list the Model 3 as the top pick, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said it plans to remove the Model 3’s Top Safety Pick + designation.

The fire department also had concerns about dealing with emergencies within the tunnels, including battery fires that could potentially last several hours. “There have been cases where electric cars have caught fire without any accidents,” Whitney told ClearTips. “Our plan right now is to get people out, then pull back and let the fire burn.”

Whitney noted that the system has multiple cameras and smoke alarms, as well as a “robust” ventilation system that can carry 400,000 cubic feet of air per minute in any direction under the tunnels. This should allow passengers and drivers to walk around cars. For less serious incidents, TBC has a tow vehicle (also a Tesla) to tow broken cars.

Neither TBC nor Clark County responded to ClearTips’s questions about whether the loop allowed wheelchair users, children or infants to usually require car seats, people with other mobility issues, or to support pets and animals Will be.

Firefighters have already conducted several drills in the underground system, including simulated accidents away from a station with two or three other vehicles on the way. “Eleven cars are definitely doable,” Whitney says. “But when you start increasing the number of cars, it can be a problem. [TBC] Is a for-profit company and seeks to maximize efficiency, so further discussion may occur as they seek to increase capacity.

expansion plan

TBC not only intends to use more vehicles in the current loop, but it is already planning to expand the system. In late March, TBC told Clark County that it had broken ground on an extension from an LVCC station to the new Resorts World Hotel, and allowed the same inspiration as a nearby Encore.

More importantly, TBC wants to build a transit system that covers the Strip and Downtown Las Vegas with more than 40 stations connecting dozens of hotels, attractions, and eventually the airport. That system will be funded by TBC and supported by ticket sales.

The feasibility of those expansions may depend on how quickly TBC can fulfill the technical and operational promises made for its relatively simple LVCC loop, and demonstrate that taxis in tunnels form column inches. May or may not generate much revenue.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!