While we doubt elevators that are pulled up and down a building using cables will go away any time soon, high-profile skyscrapers that want the latest tech under their roof may soon have a more futuristic alternative. Called MULTI, it’s a “rope-free elevator system” that uses magnets to ferry cabins across different floors.
Made by ThussenKrupp, it uses the same magnetic-levitation technology that enables trains to run at 300 mph and the upstart Hendo Hoverboard to glide across ferromagnetic surfaces. According to the company, the new innovation will help increase elevator transport capacity, improve efficiency, and reduce overall elevator footprints.
Unlike existing elevators, MULTI’s elevators won’t just be able to travel vertically, they’ll be able to move horizontally, too. That means, a building can simply have two vertical tunnels – one for going up and one for going down, with horizontal tunnels at various floors that allow a cart to switch from one tunnel to the next. All the carts can then travel along these same tunnels, with no need to construct a new one every time the building needs to add a new elevator cart to accommodate traffic. Instead, you simply integrate the additional cart into the existing system.
Each cart in MULTI will have two magnetic linear motors, one handling the vertical movement and the other facilitating horizontal travel. The same system will also be delivering power to the cart’s internal lighting and electronics via wireless induction, so each one can function without any tether whatsoever. As of now, ThussenKrupp hasn’t given details on the kind of safety measures available on the elevator (like, what happens when power goes out), although we imagine they will have some integrated mechanical systems for that.
A test tower that will house the MULTI is currently in the process of being built, which the company hopes to be operational by 2016.