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New plasma boring robot bores tunnels 100x faster at 1/50th the cost

Earthgrid's Rapid Burrowing Robot uses extremely hot plasma torches to bore tunnels contactlessly faster and cheaper than ever.

Published Jul 21, 2022 9:24 AM CDT

The boring robot, named the Rapid Burrowing Robot (RBR), was developed by Earthgrid, a startup based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The robot uses has a large array of plasma torches mounted on the end of rotating arm, arranged in a spiral pattern following the Fibonacci sequence. The extremely high temperatures produce by the plasma torches result in spallation, where material is blown away from rocky walls as they are heated by the torches, which can reach temperatures of 27,000 °C (48,600 °F).

The design allows tunnel boring without any machinery touching any walls, so the process can continue unimpeded, resulting in 98% less tunnel boring than current methods at one hundredth the cost. Traditionally, tunnels have been bored with large, mechanical rotary boring machines that grind away the rock, leaving much debris in their wake and requiring more maintenance, while taking much longer and being more expensive than Earthgrid's new method.

You can read more about this story here.

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Adam grew up watching his dad play Turok 2 and Age of Empires on a PC in his computer room, and learned a love for video games through him. Adam was always working with computers, which helped build his natural affinity for working with them, leading to him building his own at 14, after taking apart and tinkering with other old computers and tech lying around. Adam has always been very interested in STEM subjects, and is always trying to learn more about the world and the way it works.

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