Building A Tunnel Drilling Machine

astroneer Tunnel Drilling Machine

Exploring caves below the planet’s surface in Astroneer can be a lot of fun. The deeper you go, however, research rocks, Exo research boxes and resources become more of a hassle to collect due to the long walk it takes to get back to the surface and back down again. Wouldn’t it be great if you could drive a tractor down? Well here is a solution that is even better, a tunnel boring machine!

You could do this with any of the vehicles in Astroneer, however, it is best to use the large rover due to it having enough slots on the front to support digging and filling to create a perfect path to the centre of the planet.

Due to the materials required to construct the items required for this vehicle build, you will need to have travelled to other planets to obtain various supplies and more specifically, gasses. Since you can use the trading outpost to spend scrap to get most of the natural resources that you need, you will only need to travel afar for methane and other gasses that are not found on the starting planet.

What You Need To Build A Tunnel Boring Machine

The following items will need to be created to construct the ultimate tunnel digging machine. Trailers are optional but if you want to make the most of the resources that you capture while digging, you should spend the extra time to bring a trailer with plenty of storage items to make sure you are able to capture all of the resource items you dig up while you are digging into the planet. 

StructurePrinter Ingredients
Large Rover (x2 if you want a trailer)2 Aluminium Alloy, 2 Rubber
Paver1 Aluminium Alloy, 1 Silicone
Drill Strength 1 (higher depending on the planet)1 Ceramic, 1 Tungsten Carbide
Medium Soil Canister1 Plastic, 1 Glass
Power StructuresRTG if possible. If not, a medium battery with wind turbines (solar doesn’t work underground)
Resource StorageSilos offer the most storage but require titanium. Use whatever you can to maximise the number of resources you can gather.


Building The Tunnel Digger

Astroneer tunnel digging rover
The tunnel boring rover will allow you to both drill into the earth but also to fill the ground below to cover the scenario when you dig down into a cave

Set up your large rover as normal. Add a small cockpit to make space for more resources and supplies. If you have an RTG, you will be able to get away with even more storage. Wind will blow in the caves underground so you will be able to take advantage of wind power down there.

On the front of the rover, you should attach the drill bit and the paver. If you are on Sylva, you will only need drill strength 1 as this planet does not contain the strongest rock. You will slow down a bit before you get to the final layer before breaking into the gateway engine, but it can still be drilled with the first strength. On other planets, you may need to construct a stronger drill bit to get through the harder stone.

You will need to put the medium canister onto the rover to store soil for the paver to use. As you drill down, the drill will put all of the soil into the canister and all resources it hits will be added to the storage inputs. When you drill into a cavern, the paver will kick in and will generate a path for you to drive on top of.

All of your storage can go onto the trailer of the rover if you have decided to build one. As soon as you hit it with the drill, it will automatically be added to the storage on the back. If you can build silos, you should end up with a huge amount of resources by the time you get to the bottom.

How To Dig A Tunnel Using The Rover

So you have your tunnel boring rover set up and ready to go, now it is time to use it. Once you get into the rover you will see a new UI appearing. A large circle with a crosshair in the middle of it. It looks a bit like the tool you have in planes to measure how straight you are flying. It does the same thing in this game. When the red line is in the middle, you are driving in a straight line.

drill strength ui
When you have a paver and a drill strength mod added to your rover you will see the UI like this. A circle to indicate the amount of soil you have available to fill the ground ahead and the crosshair in the middle to show the current angle of the drill bit. Once you are already driving at a slope, you will need to make sure the drill bit is also straight so you do not end up digging straight down and find your rover becomes stuck.

Since you want to dig down, you will need to push down on the thumbstick so that it will start digging into the ground. You shouldn’t dig too steep or the rover may start to slide and lose control of the vehicle. The last thing you want is to fall into a cavern and be stuck, never being able to get back to the tunnel you started digging.

Every now and then, you should turn and drill out a little circle. This is useful as a sort of checkpoint where you can turn around and go back to the surface in the future if you went down without a drill. It will also let you capture some extra resources.

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