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article imageThinking outside the box — The elevator of the future is here

By Karen Graham     May 5, 2016 in Technology
Elevator technology has remained an "up-and-down" technology for decades and done very well in getting us to the top floors of our high-rises. But a German firm has given the elevator a much-needed makeover and a new lease on life.
After a demonstration of his new safety elevator at the New York World's Fair in 1854, Elisha Otis, the inventor of the Otis elevator began a business that would end up making Otis elevators the world's most popular transportation company.
The new-fangled invention went up and down within the confines of a shaft, raised and lowered by cables. And after 150 or so years, elevators today still use that basic technology, with the exception of a number of modern advances in design and control capabilities. And they still go up and down.
Otis elevator in Glasgow  Scotland  imported from the U.S. in 1856 for Gardner s Warehouse  the olde...
Otis elevator in Glasgow, Scotland, imported from the U.S. in 1856 for Gardner's Warehouse, the oldest cast-iron fronted building in the British Isles.
Zeddy
Enter a German company born out of the merger of two steel companies, Thyssen AG, founded in 1891, and Krupp, founded in 1811. Using their combined experience in the steel industry, they began offering a wider range of products for the automotive, elevator, escalator, material trading and industrial services industries.
Today, ThyssenKrupp Elevators has become a leader in innovative and technologically advanced elevators, escalators, moving walks and passenger boarding bridges. Their engineers are always looking for better ways to transport people.
Limitations of the elevator in architecture and city planning
Elevators that are confined to a vertical shaft have a number of limitations. For example, the taller a building, the more elevator shafts you need. This cuts down on space. Elevators also limit the functionality, design and shape of skyscrapers.
City planners and architects won t be limited in the design of cities in the future.
City planners and architects won't be limited in the design of cities in the future.
JNN 13
Added to the problem is wasted energy. The more elevators in a building, the cables become so heavy that more energy is spent moving them instead of the box. When a building sways, so does the elevator, points out TreeHugger.
Basically, ThyssenKrupp engineers and designers realized elevators had become a limiting factor on the height of our buildings and the density of our cities, not to mention them being a big factor in the high cost of the buildings. To meet the challenges and limitations of vertical people movement technology, the company have created the Multi elevator.
Today, half the world's population lives in cities, and the number is expected to jump to 70 percent by the end of the century. It becomes all the more important that city planners and architects look at optimizing vertical development while preserving urban greenbelts for nature and recreational purposes.
ThyssenKrupp envisions "smart cities" with mid-to-high-rise buildings offering the most economical and environmentally sustainable solutions to our urban challenges. With the creation of these denser cities, moving people quickly from one place to another is the basic concept of the Multi elevator.
Patrick Bass is ThyssenKrupp's North America CEO, and he has been in the elevator business for 26 years, the last 16 in research and development. He says that right now, a person might use a number of different modes of transportation to get around in a city.
He sees an integrated network of Multi elevators, moving walkways and autonomous cars being able to handle all the movement around the city, according to CNN Money. "You'll see a significant change in transportation, both in buildings and within cities," said Bass "You're going to see all of that start to blend together."
On the right in this graphic  the Multi elevator is shown  demonstrating its vertical and horizontal...
On the right in this graphic, the Multi elevator is shown, demonstrating its vertical and horizontal functions.
ThyssenKrupp
Multi elevator technology is up and running
The Multi lift system doesn't use cables and is not limited to one elevator shaft. Instead, each elevator is an independent vehicle running on a track powered by a system known as magnetic levitation, or maglev technology. Maglev technology is the use of the physical properties of magnetic fields generated by superconducting magnets to cause an object (like a vehicle) to float above a solid surface. Just think of Bullet trains.
We already have the Accel moving walkway, another creation that uses maglev technology. Actually, the Accel was the first use of this technology outside of a train. When you step on the Accel, it picks up speed, moving you twice as fast as a regular moving walkway.
The Accel moving walkway also uses meglev technology  allowing for a quicker trip from one point to ...
The Accel moving walkway also uses meglev technology, allowing for a quicker trip from one point to another.
ThyssenKrupp
The really neat thing about the Multi elevator is the freedom of movement in any direction. It can go up or down, and when it reaches a junction, it can go horizontal. But that's not all the designers envision for this remarkable people mover. Cities of the future can have buildings connected to each other using this transportation system simply because it is not confined to one place or spot within a building.
You could even call the Multi elevator concept a mass transit solution, and this wouldn't be too far off the mark. By adding several self-propelled elevator cabins to the loop, people will be moved around about 50 percent faster than with the elevator systems in use today. Yes, it is becoming a brave new world, at least for public transportation.
More about Elevators, multi elevator, magnetic levitation, otis elevator, ThyssenKrupp
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