He suggests that as a result, it will be possible to create tunnels in hard rock times faster than when using existing technologies. EarthGrid is developing a prototype robot with five plasma torches, which Helming said should be ready for testing in March . The company also aims to complete its first small commercial project by the end of this year. Helming notes that in the case of EarthGrid, the tunnels will be shaped not like circles, but rather like horseshoesthink of a square with an arch at the top instead of a flat ceiling. Thus, in his opinion, it is easier to install cable racks, and in larger transport tunnels to lay the road surface on the flat surface of the tunnel.
Competing company Petra is also looking to drill through hard rock using the power of heat, albeit with a thermal cutting device that uses superheated fluid rather than a plasma torch. According to CEO and co founder Kim Abrams, the idea is to handle difficult geological conditions with relative ease. "Just last week, we finished Switzerland WhatsApp Number List digging a foot, inch tunnel in granite," she says, adding that the company hopes to begin commercial operations next year. And she mentions that the company is also working on a separate solution for another problem the extremely soft or waterlogged soil often found under and near coastal cities.
However, Amberg notes that these technologies have yet to be proven at scale. She calls the hyperTunnel concept interesting, but adds that she's not sure how the robots will handle more difficult geological conditions or waterlogged soils. Jian Zhao is a professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at Monash University in Australia. He and his colleagues investigated the use of laser, microwave and high pressure water abrasive technologies, particularly for tunnel boring. He doubts that Petra's thermal method will be sufficient for large tunneling projects, but it may be possible to combine it with mechanical excavation.