Engineering firm ThyssenKrup has created a Maglev elevator that operates horizontally as well as vertically, and without cables. The firm has completed the first public tests of the technology in a dedicated tower. Named Multi, the experimental elevator trades in cables for rails and magnetic fields. The fields push the cabins along the rails which work like linear motors, much like an in-building hyperloop.
The cabins can rotate to shift a cabin to the side when it stops at a floor. This allows more cabins to use the system seamlessly without getting in each other’s way. The cabins will also be able to plan their routes, which will reduce wait times and prevent in-shaft traffic jams.
This tech may also solve an ongoing issue facing designers of modern high-rise buildings. If you’ve ever been in a very tall building, you’ve probably noticed that you’re forced to take elevators from different banks to reach the highest floors. This is because standard cable elevator designs can only safely rise about 1,600 feet per single continuous stretch. The Multi system would put an end to that, making more space and style options possible.
ThyssenKrup has already signed up its first customer: the East Side Tower building planned for Berlin will feature the Multi. Before you get too excited, though, realize that the price tag of the system will probably keep it from becoming the new standard anytime soon: it costs up to five times as much as a standard elevator system. And, there’s no “up and out” button — the cabins will rely on the rails.