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Warwick Boring Team: Global Finalists in Elon Musk’s Not a Boring Competition 2021

Warwick Boring Team is made up of students and alumni from the University of Warwick. Our notable achievements include placing in the top 1% of global applicants at Elon Musk’s boring competition.

Parts list

Qty Product Part number
1 Kunbus PLC I/O Module for use with Revolution Pi Connect, Revolution Pi Core, 96 x 22.5 x 110.5 mm, Digital, Digital, 1811143
1 Kunbus PLC I/O Module for use with Revolution Pi Connect, Revolution Pi Core, 96 x 22.5 x 110.5 mm, Digital, PWM, RevPI 1811145
1 Kunbus PLC I/O Module for use with Revolution Pi Connect, Revolution Pi Core, 96 x 22.5 x 110.5 mm, 0...5 V, 0...10 V, 1811146
1 Kunbus Expansion Module for use with RevPi, REVOLUTION PI, REVOLUTION PI 2217790
1 RS PRO Stainless Steel Pipe Fitting, Tee Circular Tee, Female G 2in x Female G 2in x Female G 2in 4993209
1 RS PRO Stainless Steel Pipe Fitting Hexagon Bush, Male R 2in x Female G 1/2in 4993726
1 RS PRO Stainless Steel Pipe Fitting, Straight Hexagon Hose Nipple, Male R 2in x Male 4993805
1 Phoenix Contact Solid State Contactor 1960377
1 Chinfa DRA240 Switch Mode DIN Rail Power Supply 90 → 264V ac Input, 24V dc Output, 10A 240W 7894013
1 RS PRO Stainless Steel Pipe Fitting, Tee Circular Tee, Female G 2in x Female G 2in x Female G 2in 4993209
1 RS PRO Stainless Steel Pipe Fitting Hexagon Plug, Male R 2in 4993675
1 RS PRO Stainless Steel Pipe Fitting, Straight Hexagon Hose Nipple, Male R 2in x Male 4993805
1 RS PRO Silver Aluminium Strut, 30 x 30 mm, 6mm Groove , 3000mm Length 7613293
1 RS PRO Silver Aluminium Strut, 40 x 40 mm, 8mm Groove , 1000mm Length 7613319
1 RS PRO Silver Aluminium Strut, 40 x 40 mm, 8mm Groove , 2000mm Length 7613313
1 Nut,stainless steel A4,coarse thread,M8 0189608
1 Hexagon head high tensile bolt,M8x30mm 9173138
1 WEG CWB Contactor, 24 V dc Coil, 3 Pole, 65 A, 30 kW, 1NO + 1NC 2013451
1 RS PRO, Slotted Din Rail, 500mm x 35mm x 7.5mm 0467406
1 RS PRO Black 1 mm² Single Core Control Cable, 18 AWG, 32/0.2 mm, 25m 8114416
1 RS PRO Red 1 mm² Single Core Control Cable, 18 AWG, 32/0.2 mm, 25m 8114422
1 RS PRO Yellow 1 mm² Single Core Control Cable, 18 AWG, 32/0.2 mm, 25m 8114425
1 RS PRO Blue 1 mm² Single Core Control Cable, 18 AWG, 32/0.2 mm, 100m 8114481
1 RS PRO Green/Yellow 1 mm² Single Core Control Cable, 18 AWG, 32/0.2 mm, 25m 8114413
1 Tente Fixed Castor Wheel, 200kg Capacity, 80mm Wheel 7871496
1 Lapp H07RN-F 3 Core Power Cable, 2.5 mm², 26 A, 50m, Black Rubber Sheath, 450/750 V 8179006
1 RS PRO 4 Core NYY-J Power Cable, 2.5 mm², 50m, Black PVC Sheath, 1 kV, 600 V 9028307
1 Phoenix Contact Cable Mount Circular Connector, 5 Contacts, M12 Connector, Socket 1548104
1 Phoenix Contact Cable Mount Connector, 4 Contacts, M8 Connector, Socket 6486393
1 Phoenix Contact Cable Mount Connector, 4 Contacts, M8 Connector, Plug 6486438
1 Entrelec Distribution Block, 10 Way, 4mm², 32A, 800 V, Grey 3831598
1 RS PRO DIN Rail Terminal Block, 22 → 10 AWG, 4mm², 800 V 8787528
1 RS PRO DIN Rail Terminal Block, 22 → 10 AWG, 4mm², 800 V 8787522
1 RS PRO Insulated Crimp Blade Terminal 10mm Blade Length, 0.5mm² to 1.5mm², 22AWG to 16AWG, Red 1787244
1 JST , FV Insulated Crimp Blade Terminal 9mm Blade Length, 1mm² to 2.6mm², 16AWG to 14AWG, Blue 6881234
1 RS PRO Slide On Cable Marketing Kit, 2 ? 8mm, 3600 Markers 9140592
1 Shunt Trip, 110-415 Vac/110-230 Vdc 8473673
1 RS PRO Male RJ45 Connector 1116743
1 Harting, RJ Industrial Series Male Cat6a RJ45 Connector 7714854
1 Europa EUB1 EUB MCB, 1P Poles, 25A Curve B, 230 V ac, 240 V ac AC 7982211
1 RS PRO Female RJ45 Connector 1116744
1 RS PRO Hose Connector, Straight Camlock Coupling, G 2in 2in ID, 17 bar 0307263
1 Jubilee, Stainless Steel, Slotted Screw Worm Drive 40 → 70mm ID 1245745
1 RS PRO, Stainless Steel, Hex Screw Worm Drive 35 → 50mm ID 1450273
1 Jubilee, Stainless Steel, Slotted Screw Quick Release Strap 50 → 200mm ID 1440785
1 Jubilee, Stainless Steel, Slotted Screw Worm Drive 40 → 70mm ID 1245745
1 White Plastic Sheet, 600mm x 300mm x 1.5mm 2820575
1 RS PRO Stainless Steel Pipe Fitting, Straight Hexagon Hose Nipple, Male R 2in x Male 4993805
1 RS PRO Brass Full Bore, 2 Way Ball Valve, BSPP 50.8mm, 40 → 30bar Operating Pressure 7335142
1 Jubilee, Stainless Steel, Slotted Screw Worm Drive 40 → 70mm ID 1245745
1 Araldite Araldite 2011 Paste Adhesive, 300 g 3149704
1 RS PRO Brass Single Check Valve, BSPP 2in, 12 bar 0486233
1 RS PRO Brass Single Check Valve, BSPP 1/2in, 12 bar 0486148
1 MENNEKES IP44 Blue Panel Mount 3P Industrial Power Socket, Rated At 32A, 230 V 0490532
1 MENNEKES, AM-TOP IP44 Blue Cable Mount 3P Industrial Power Plug, Rated At 32.0A, 230.0V 4646228
1 MENNEKES IP44 Red Panel Mount 4P Industrial Power Socket, Rated At 32A, 400 V 0490554
1 MENNEKES, AM-TOP IP44 Red Cable Mount 4P Industrial Power Plug, Rated At 32A, 400 V 4646234
1 RS PRO Cable Gland, M16 Max. Cable Dia. 7mm, Nylon, Black, 3mm Min. Cable Dia., IP68, With Locknut 6694667
1 RS PRO Grey Slotted Panel Trunking - Open Slot, W60 mm x D100mm, L2m, PVC 7589301
1 Bolt,roofing,square nuts,bright zinc plated steel,M6x12mm 0277604
1 Bosch Rexroth Silver Aluminium Strut, 45 x 45 mm, 10mm Groove , 3000mm Length 3900048
1 Bosch Rexroth Strut Profile Gusset, strut profile 40mm, 45mm, 50mm, 60mm, Groove Size 10mm 6670541
1 Bosch Rexroth Connecting Component, T-Head Bolt, strut profile 40 mm, 45 mm, 50 mm, 60 mm, groove Size 10mm 3900329
1 Bosch Rexroth Connecting Component, T-Slot Nut, strut profile 40 mm, 45 mm, 50 mm, 60 mm, groove Size 10mm 3900278
1 Bosch Rexroth MGE Castor Wheels, Strut Profile, 10mm, M8 Thread 0227618
1 Siemens 3SU1 Emergency Stop Push Button 1933912
1 RS PRO Black Rubber Sheet, 1.2m x 600mm x 3mm 5063214
1 RS PRO Black Rubber Sheet, 1m x 600mm x 3mm 5063090
1 Hexagon head high tensile bolt,M6x55mm 9173104
1 Black Rubber Sheet, 1.4m x 1m x 3mm 2035139
1 RS PRO Hose Connector Hose Tail Adaptor, G 1in 1in ID 5067317
1 RS PRO Stainless Steel Pipe Fitting Hexagon Plug, Male R 2in 4993675
1 MENNEKES, AM-TOP IP44 Red Cable Mount 4P Industrial Power Plug, Rated At 32A, 400 V 4646234
1 MENNEKES IP44 Red Panel Mount 4P Industrial Power Socket, Rated At 32A, 400 V 0490554
1 Square Galvanised Steel Metal Tube, 2m L, 30mm W, 30mm H 3737890
1 Omron Retroreflective Photoelectric Sensor, Block Sensor, 100 mm → 4 m Detection Range 3742038
1 Bulgin Straight Male M8 to Free End Sensor Actuator Cable, 4 Core, PUR, 1m 1446748
1 Brad from Molex Straight Female M8 to Free End Sensor Actuator Cable, 4 Core, PUR, 2m 2904459
1 Weidmuller Distribution Block, 6 Way, 10 mm², 25 mm², 100A, 690 V ac/dc, Green 1383486
1 Weidmuller Distribution Block, 6 Way, 10 mm², 25 mm², 100A, 690 V ac/dc, Grey 1383483
1 440G-LZ Power to Lock Switch, M12 8104068
1 Phoenix Contact Female M12 to Sensor Actuator Cable, 8 Core, PUR, 1.5m 8592077
1 JST , FV Insulated Crimp Blade Terminal 18.2mm Blade Length, 1mm² to 2.6mm², 16AWG to 14AWG, Blue 6881256
1 JST , FV Insulated Crimp Blade Terminal 9mm Blade Length, 1mm² to 2.6mm², 16AWG to 14AWG, Blue 6881234
1 RS PRO Insulated Crimp Blade Terminal 10mm Blade Length, 0.5mm² to 1.5mm², 22AWG to 16AWG, Red 1787244
1 WEG CWC Contactor, 230 V ac Coil, 4 Pole, 9 A, 22 kW, 4NO 1221037
1 RS PRO Black 1 mm² Single Core Control Cable, 18 AWG, 32/0.2 mm, 25m 8114416
1 RS PRO Red 1 mm² Single Core Control Cable, 18 AWG, 32/0.2 mm, 25m 8114422
1 RS PRO Yellow 1 mm² Single Core Control Cable, 18 AWG, 32/0.2 mm, 25m 8114425
1 RS PRO Blue 1 mm² Single Core Control Cable, 18 AWG, 32/0.2 mm, 100m 8114481
1 RS PRO Green/Yellow 1 mm² Single Core Control Cable, 18 AWG, 32/0.2 mm, 25m 8114413
1 RS PRO Panel Mount Industrial Power Connector, 10 Contacts, Plug 2065221
1 RS PRO Cable Mount Industrial Power Connector, 10 Contacts, Socket 2070696
1 Igus chainflex CF211.PUR Data Cable, 10 Cores, 0.25 mm², Screened, 50m, Grey Polyurethane PUR Sheath, 24 AWG 2100539
1 HellermannTyton Spiral Wrap, I.D 4mm 20mm polyethylene (PE) SBPE Series 6826845
1 Harting 4 Pole M12 Socket to 8 Pole RJ45 Socket Adapter 9139176
1 Binder Cable Mount Connector, 4 Contacts, M12 Connector, Plug 1152499
1 RS PRO Female RJ45 Connector 1116744
1 RS PRO Male RJ45 Connector 1116743
1 Harting, RJ Industrial Series Male Cat6a RJ45 Connector 7714854
1 RS PRO Panel Mount Industrial Power Connector, 7 Contacts, Plug 2065236
1 RS PRO Cable Mount Industrial Power Connector, 7 Contacts, Socket 2070711
1 Igus chainflex CF240 Data Cable, 7 Cores, 0.25 mm², Screened, 50m, Grey PVC Sheath, 24 AWG 2100558
1 RS PRO Connecting Component, Angle Bracket, strut profile 40 mm, groove Size 8mm 7675695
1 Siemens SIRIUS ACT Contact Block - 1NC 5 → 500V ac/dc 8742229
1 CAE Groupe CAELIFLEX Actuator/Sensor Cable, 12 Cores, 1 mm², Unscreened, 50m, Grey PVC Sheath, 16 AWG 0529479
1 Nanahoshi Kagaku Panel Mount Connector, 12 Contacts, Socket 5026215
1 Nanahoshi Kagaku Cable Mount Connector, 12 Contacts, Plug 5025830
1 Startech 7x USB A Port Hub, USB 3.0 - AC Adapter Powered 8988425
1 Schneider Electric Straight, Panel Mount, Socket Type A 3.0 IP20 USB Connector 1254414
1 RS PRO Male USB A to Male USB A Cable, USB 3.0, 1m 1828842
1 RS PRO Male USB A to Female USB A USB Extension Cable, USB 3.0, 5m 1828841
1 Weidmuller Distribution Block, 9 Way, 16 mm², 25 mm², 35 mm², 185 mm², 353A, 1 kV ac, 1.5 kV dc, 600 V, Grey 1383493
1 RS PRO Grey Fibreglass Enclosure, IP67, 300 x 300 x 175mm 0507999
1 RS PRO Cable Gland, M25 Max. Cable Dia. 18mm, Nylon, Black, 13mm Min. Cable Dia., IP68, With Locknut 6694676
1 Schneider Electric 10m 4 Socket Type G - British Extension Reel, 240 V 4708118
1 RS PRO UK Mains Plug, 13A, Cable Mount, 250 V 0854403
1 RS PRO Tungsten Carbide Tipped 16 → 51mm Core Drill Bit 9186409
1 Figaro TGS2612-D00, Butane, Methane, Propane Air Quality Sensor 1346652
1 Nu-Tech Engineering Stainless Steel Adjustable Foot, 3750kg Static Load Capacity 10° Tilt Angle 4052623
1 RS PRO Brass Full Bore, 2 Way Ball Valve, BSPP 50.8mm, 40 → 30bar Operating Pressure 7335142
1 Bosch Rexroth Connecting Component, Gusset, strut profile 40 mm, groove Size 10mm 0523370
1 Bosch Rexroth Silver Aluminium Strut, 40 x 40 mm, 10mm Groove , 2000mm Length 4597205
1 Black Rubber Sheet, 1.4m x 1m x 3mm 2035139
1 RS PRO Black Rubber Sheet, 1m x 600mm x 3mm 5063090
1 RS PRO Black Rubber Sheet, 1.2m x 600mm x 3mm 5063214
1 White Plastic Sheet, 600mm x 300mm x 1.5mm 2820575
1 500ml all direction foam 4881617
1 RS PRO Stainless Steel Pipe Fitting Socket, Female G 2in x Female G 2in 4993164
1 Legrand IP67 Red Cable Mount 3P+N+E Industrial Power Plug, Rated At 125A, 415 V 1362728
1 ABB, Tough & Safe IP67 Red Cable Mount 3P+N+E Industrial Power Plug, Rated At 63A, 415 V 7209443
1 Schneider Electric Straight, Panel Mount, Socket Type A 3.0 IP20 USB Connector 1254414
1 RS PRO Male USB A to Male USB A Cable, USB 3.0, 1m 1828842

About Us

Warwick Boring is a small team of 50 students and alumni from the University of Warwick that formed in 2020. We came together to design and innovate tunnelling technology that centres around speed, sustainability and cost effectiveness. We designed, raised £200,000 and built a tunnelling machine prototype in just 8 months. Subsequently, our efforts meant we were chosen as 1 of 12 finalists from 400 teams worldwide to attend Elon Musk's first tunnelling competition in Las Vegas, in which we competed against the likes of MIT and TUM (The Technical University of Munich). We placed in the top 4 and were the only UK team to have made it to the finals.

This year we are continuing to further innovate, push boundaries and challenge traditional construction and tunnelling methods.

Warwick Boring Team

Our Values

Put simply, our mission is to shape the transportation of tomorrow through the development of more innovative and sustainable tunnelling technologies. As a team, we have a core set of values, which every team member strives to embody in all pursuits. These are diversity, sustainability, integrity, inclusion, innovation and challenging traditional industry methods.

Our Technology

We’re proud of last year's machine design, but from our experience (from our respective competitions in Las Vegas and testing at our UK site), we are keen to continue its development moving forward. We are working hard to improve our machine, not only in terms of performance but also making it more cost-effective and energy efficient. On top of that, we are adapting our design to include modularity, meaning we can continue to evolve individual sub-systems in the years to come. Such examples include that of switching our actuators from a hydraulic to an electronic system, and redesigning our launch structure.

Launch

There are two parts of the Warwick Boring Launch system. We have a tipper trailer which serves as transport for the machine and inclines at a 30 degree launch angle. The trailer is fitted with custom interior walls that hold the machine in place. The custom rear wall can be moved forwards. As the machine moves into the ground, it pushes against the back plate. Once the first stroke of the propulsion system completes, the back plate is moved forward, causing the cycle to repeat.

We also have two HDPE (plastic) tubes, surrounding the gripper pads of the TBM. These serve as mock tunnel lining for when the soil overburden is insufficient for the commence of the tunnel lining procedure. It is split in half and attached with aluminium clamps so that assembly and access is easier. We have four pairs of wheel chocks to block the trailer into position that prevents movement. 10 Concrete bunker blocks, located behind the trailer, also stops it from moving when the tunneling machine pushes against it.

Launch design

Propulsion

Once we've launched, it is our propulsion system that proceeds to drive the machine forwards with a continuous thrust cycle. Our system is designed to control turns so that we can launch from the surface and then resurface to our target destination.

Propulsion design

Tunnel Lining

Tunnel lining is the process of building the walls of the tunnel that will get left behind once the machine has finished digging. At the end, it produces a long, curved, circular pipe underground. Our team uses a techique which combines rapid setting concrete/additive pumped into the machine, which is then continuously extruded around the tunnel circumference.

Previous issues included the concrete's strength, inefficient machinery, and difficulty cleaning the subsystem. Working towards a tangible solution, we will this year be working on the same principle basis but with updated materials, equipment and component configurations.

Tunnel Lining

Soil Removal

To remove the soil from the machine, water gets pumped into the TBM. Then, a slurry pump sucks the water back in with the soil, and these materials get crumpled with the flocculant system. Finally, a vortex filter separates the soil, which goes into a slurry pit, and the water, that will be reused in the cycle.

Material Extraction

Our slurry system has been designed for pure simplicity and efficiency. Through extracting the bored ground material, we have better understood its desired behaviour. For this reason, we have had the opportunity to improve our mechanisms, increased their resilience, added a hose reel for deployment ease, ensured correct filtration using a vortex filter and developed system input and output data.

Material Extraction

Electronics

Power and control are simply fundamental to the functioning of our machine. Our electronics teams makes sure that every component on our TBM and at the launch site has the power to complete their designated function. In addition, we have ensured that all components and sensors are in-sync with one another to give us total control of the TBM!

Last year, we opted for 2 separate cabinets for power and control that can be easily moved and rewired. This flexibility allowed for quick adaptation as a result of manufacturer issues and replacements. This year however, we are opting for a more robust, modular design that will stay in one place, with better security features. Other changes include improved cooling and insulation, easier manoeuvrability, and better PLC display systems.

Electronics

Navigation

We have several sensors on the machine to tell us how the tunnel boring machine is moving. It moves a predetermined path. In case the sensors detect a deviation from a set path, it will try to reroute and change trajectory depending on the initial deviation.

In the previous academic year, our focus was on dead reckoning and LiDAR techniques. Despite this, our focus has now shifted to more robust approaches with a particular emphasis on experimentation and redundancy to find the most apt solution.

R&D Approach

Front End

This is the front of the machine - everything concerning the cutterhead, crushercone, slurrycone and the components that power it. In this case the electric motor and gearbox systems. It also contains the extrusion chamber for the tunnelling system. Its main function is everything related to digging and it also houses the soil removal and tunnel extrusion system.

Front End Design

Our Proceeding Goals

As a team, we are never complacent in our ambitions to revolutionise the tunnelling industry. Consequently, our timeline for the year ahead details an action plan to achieve such milestones. This includes:

  • Completion of our final report for the SEMI FINALS of the 2023 Not a Boring Competition, provisionally arranged to be held in Austin, Texas in January 2023.
  • Undergoing a subsequent round of procurement and testing. This includes finalising a new design for the tunnel lining and front end subsystems.
  • Concurrently, our fundraising team is working to finalise new and existing sponsorships and donations. This encompasses other such activities such as grant applications.
  • In August, subsystem and full system assembly of our tunnel boring machine (TBM) will be finalised.
  • Hence, in September, our machine will be tested on a live site in Norfolk whilst participating in the recently founded European Tunnelling Week, featuring fellow teams met in the previous Vegas competition.

Publicity & Appraisals

Thus far, our team's achievements have been praised, not only through prior competitions, but by leading figures such as Simon Wright, the ex-CEO of Crossrail, and Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands. External acknowledgement has also originated from being featured in Business Insider, BBC Sounds and the New Civil Engineer. We aspire to reach an even wider audience as we continue.

Despite this, our project is not possible without the support from many different organisations to propel our innovations forward. We are therefore immensely grateful to all who have supported us so far as we work towards our goals of revolutionising how society travels.

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