A German company develops a new cableless, magnetic elevator system allowing multiple cabins to use one lift shaft, and to travel horizontally as well as vertically. Suzannah Butcher has more.
Elevators can test the patience of the most laid back office-worker. Long waits, overcrowding and stops at floors when it's already full - there's not much love for the average lift. But a German company intends to revolutionise the elevator system. Using magnets instead of cables, the MULTI lift system being developed by Thyssenkrupp, will be able to move horizontally as well as vertically, while allowing several cabins in the same shaft. Elevator technology has barely changed since its inception in 1854, and Thyssenkrupp's Andreas Schierenbeck says it's the old style Paternoster lift which helped inspire this new system. SOUNDBITE (German) CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF THYSSENKRUPP'S ELEVATOR DIVISION, ANDREAS SCHIERENBECK, SAYING: "The best, most efficient use of a lift shaft is to have more than one cabin, like in the Paternoster, which I am sure you remember and which is not allowed in Germany anymore. It is very slow but very, very efficient." Thyssenkrupp's system circulates cabins in a similar way, but is faster and has brakes to stop at required floors. SOUNDBITE (German) CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF THYSSENKRUPP'S ELEVATOR DIVISION, ANDREAS SCHIERENBECK, SAYING: "The original concept that we are now working on, is transporting eight people per cabin. Thus the cabins are slightly smaller and lighter, so they travel significantly faster. We have calculated that the lift doors will open every 15 to 30 seconds and eight people will be able to get in." The company plans to introduce its first full-size prototype within two years, and thinks the invention could elevate it to the top of the lift technology sector.