Next Generation Elevator Will Use Magnets Instead Of Cables

The elevator of the future may be just over the horizon thanks to German company ThyssenKrupp. The firm has invented a cable-free elevator (called MULTI) that can go up and down like traditional lifts, but the magnetic motors allow it to go side-to-side, too. The designers speculate that buildings implementing this technology could increase the carrying capacity of existing architecture by as much as 50%. Plus, it looks really neat.

ThyssenKrupp plans to use light-weight materials to build its elevator cars of the future, and the lack of a cable winch will reduce weight as well. The cars wouldn’t just move up and down the elevator shaft like they do now, but would instead go in a loop that allows more cars to sneak in right behind the next. The result is that you might only have to wait 10 seconds for the next one to arrive, rather than wait for the one you just missed to come back down.

The technology backing ThyssenKrupp’s MULTI elevator is very similar to magnetic levitation systems used in high-speed trains. Each car has two magnetic linear motors–one for vertical movement and another for horizontal. This system can also deliver power to the car’s internal lighting and electronics through wireless induction, so no physical tether is needed.

A traditional cable driven elevator has mechanical components that can hold the car in place in the event of a power outage. ThyssenKrupp didn’t go into detail about safety measures in its announcement, but it’s safe to say the magnetic levitation elevator will have some sort of system to hold it in place if the lights go out.

ThyssenKrupp is working on a test tower that will be used to develop the MULTI into a real elevator technology. This should be up and running by 2016, but it will probably take at least a few more years before you get to climb inside a magnetic elevator car.

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