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About the Warwick Boring Team: Our Journey So Far

tunnel boring

About Us

The Warwick Boring team is a collective of 50+ students from across the University of Warwick, and its alumni, who aim to revolutionise the tunnelling industry by creating a cost-effective, modular, and easy to assembly tunnel boring machine. So far, our team have placed in the top 4 of Elon Musk’s Not-a-Boring Competition 2022 and we were in the top 1% of global applicants. We have additionally received recognition from the BBC, Business Insider, the Mayor of the West Midlands and many more!

Our Journey to the Competition

Following the success of Warwick Hyperloop, which competed in the 2017 and 2019 SpaceX competitions, the Warwick Boring Team was established by the same founder and multiple new team members at the start of 2020. Since then, the team has continued to expand into new realms to mirror the same success and find new solutions to the tunnelling sectors' challenges. Upon our establishment, a team of 20 students worked to form a working machine and undertook an enormous fundraising drive in their founding year.

In November 2021 however, a second recruitment drive was initiated, expanding the team to 50 members and allowing for further achievements to be met. Since then, a number of milestones have been fulfilled in this academic year including initial submissions for the EU and US competitions, additional fundraising and procurement rounds, and whole machine assembly.

In the coming months, our team are working towards full system testing and shipping of our machine to competition locations. Our first competition will take place at the European Tunnelling Week 2022 in the UK.

Technological Development

As a team, our technology departments are split up into a number of sub-teams: launch, propulsion, tunnel lining, soil removal, material extraction, electronics, navigation and front end. We are aiming to build a cost-effective, modular, and easy-to-assemble machine which can be adapted to upgrade our systems at regular intervals. More information about each individual subsystem can be found in our last post.  

Technology Involved

As indicated in our previous post, a list of parts bought from RS Components can be found. These parts make up major components of our subsystems, allowing for the efficient running and current success of our TBM.

Reflections

As a team, our journey has oscillated with numerous positives and negatives during the process. Despite this, we as a collective continue to strive to achieve even more ambitious goals. This is assisted by reflecting on the important lessons we have learnt so far. Such examples include:

  • The importance of logistics and operations planning to ensure we have adequate time for tasks such as setting up our tunnel boring machine on site for both testing and the competition.
  • Consideration of the impact of weather conditions (heat, rain, and sun) on our electronic components, and how we can efficiently cool these components.
  • Additionally, we have learnt how to effectively collaborate as a team and work entirely virtually throughout the pandemic.
  • Organising tasks on our laboratory whiteboard system. 
  • To account for reliance on third parties. For example, lead times on parts may be extended longer than we desire and testing sites may not provide facilities such as a water supply, shelters, chairs and tables.
  • Utilising spare parts such as fasteners and screws and organising them in an efficient way for future use.
  • Checking at each stage that we have the necessary paperwork including standard operating procedures and risk assessments to proceed with on-site testing. 

 

All of these obstacles we overcame using dynamic teamwork, ensuring future mistakes do not reoccur. The team excelled by creating a mutually collaborative environment.

Future Goals

Overall, our ultimate goal as a team is to revolutionise the typically traditional tunnelling industry, creating a machine that can beat the pace of a snail when undergoing boring methods. To this effect, we hope our innovative solutions will provide us with a pathway to winning the European Tunnelling Week 2022 and Not-a-Boring Competition 2023, whilst gaining industry recognition.

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