The Reason You Could Soon See Sideways Elevators

August 12th 2016

Lucy Tiven

A new elevator technology could radically transform office space, public transportation, and city life.

German company Thyssenkrupp has debuted a technology called Multi, which allows an elevator to travel horizontally as well as vertically, according to a recent report on How Stuff Works.

Instead of using cables, like today's up-and-down elevators, Multi uses magnetic levitation to send multiple six- to 10-passenger cars through a single elevator shaft at once, Wired reported.

New cars would arrive every 15 to 30 seconds.

This could add as much as 25 percent more space to large office buildings and allow people to navigate these spaces more seamlessly.


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It could also improve mass transit.

Architecture firm Weston Williamson is considering using the technology in the London Underground subway system, Wired reported.

From Wired:

"It's the same tech used in a few (non-American) rail systems: Magnetic coils on an elevator shaft track repel magnets on elevator cabins, floating rider-filled boxes to their destinations. Making it move sideways is just a matter of building a horizontal shaft.

"To get folks into a subway station, the Multi could start its journey in skyscrapers themselves. Riders could call a cabin right to their office floor, and the system would organize riders making trips to the same subway platform together."

In other words, people could travel through their office buildings to subway stations without descending staircases or escalators.

"It's ideal for subway systems that organize different lines on top of each other: No more getting off an escalator halfway for another escalator," Wired added.

The technology could help prevent further urban sprawl.

As cities have grown more populous in recent years, they've also become less dense.

"As cities grow, perhaps our most serious concern should be how they expand out into the surrounding countryside," The Guardian reported. "Contrary to popular belief, over the past century urban settlements have not only expanded demographically, they have also sprawled outwards — covering some of the world's most valuable farmland in the process."

This urban sprawl poses a serious threat to surrounding farmland and food production. The Multi system could help curb sprawl and make cities easier to navigate.

[h/t How Stuff Works]