No Ropes Attached: A Revolutionary New Elevator Has Arrived

Tired of waiting for elevators?  You’re not alone.  A Columbia University study revealed that, in one year, New York City office workers spent a cumulative 16.6 years waiting to travel up or down.  But help is on the way in the form of the “MULTI,” created by a German elevator company (thyssenkrupp), that enables sideways movement and cuts wait time to no more than 30 seconds.  Likened to a metro system inside a building, the MULTI features multiple cabins that operate in a loop, thereby revolutionizing the options for high-rise building design.

 With conventional elevators, the taller the building, the more shafts required, limiting a skyscraper’s functionality, design and shape.  According to Markus Jetter, Head EVof Research at thyssenkrupp, “Buildings are becoming like vertical cities, and they need a flexible transport system similar to a metro.  Speed alone does not solve the challenges posed by tall buildings.“

Originally introduced in 2014, news of the June 22 unveiling at thyssenkrupp’s Rottweil, Germany test tower is sweeping the internet.

According to Antony Wood, Executive Director of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, “This is perhaps the biggest development in the elevator industry since the invention of the safety elevator some 165 years ago.The ‘holy grail’ for elevators has been to move beyond being pulled vertically by a rope under tension—towards a system that allows movement in inclined or horizontal directions. MULTI, more than any other product delivered to date, really shows the way forward for that potential. This has the capacity to transform the industry at large, changing the way tall buildings are designed, and allowing for much more efficient core designs, as well as better connectivity in buildings.”

Imitating the magnetic levitation technology used on high-speed trains, strong magnets installed in every car interact with a magnetized coil running along the track. Turning these coils on and off creates magnetic fields strong enough to pull the car in various directions.  Bearings called “slings” are mounted to every elevator car and allow it to change direction while keeping the car level with the ground.  The “exchanger” is a section of the track that rotates to change the direction of the cabin. Exchangers (similar to railway switches) change from vertical to horizontal to allow for sideways movement.

Benefits include:

  • Reduced elevator footprint by as much as 50%
  • Reduced wait time to 15 to 30 seconds
  • Reduced cabin and door weight
  • Reduced building power supply costs
  • Elimination of building height and design constraints
  • Elimination of shaft height and vertical alignment constraints
  • Safe, multi-level brake system
  • Multiple cabins that can use the same shaft
  • Possible use in underground train systems

This unprecedented breakthrough in urban mobility received the 2017 Gold Edison Award in the Transportation and Logistics category.  The very first MULTI will be installed at OVG Real Estate’s new East Side Tower in Berlin. To see the MULTI in operation, click here.

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