Elevators of the future: Companies race to create go-to technology for supertalls

Speed, direction and materials are key to innovation

TRD New York /
Feb.February 20, 2018 09:10 AM

Shanghai Tower and its elevator (Credit: Mitsubishi Electric)

As supertalls continue to sprout up in the city’s skyline, elevator companies are racing to come up with the future of vertical transportation.

In the next two years, developers are expected to build 187 towers across the globe that will each rise at least 820 feet high, Bloomberg reported. That fast pace has major companies — Thyssenkrupp, Kone, Otis Elevator, Schindler Group and Mitsubishi Electric Corp., together considered the “Big Five” — scrambling to dream up the go-to technology for these towers.

Germany-based Thyssenkrupp AG has been working on an elevator that can move vertically and horizontally and can travel inside and outside a building, using a magnetic system instead of cables and pulleys. That model, dubbed the Multi, is expected to be rolled out in 2020.

Meanwhile, Kone is working on the UltraRope, a carbon fiber wire that is lighter than steel and doubles the maximum height an elevator car can be hoisted in a single trip. The Karlatornet tower, which is expected to be the tallest building in the Nordic countries when completed, will use the Kone system. Mitsubishi and Otis are upping the game when it comes to speed. In the Shanghai Tower, Mitsubishi’s NexWay System set records for traveling 45.9 miles per hour. Otis’ Sky Shuttle in the Lotte World Tower in Seoul set another record for double decker elevators.

There are physical limits to how far elevator technology can go, however. All elevators have to travel downward at no more than roughly 33 feet per second so that the inner ear can adjust — and so that bladders can too, Jim Fortune, an elevator consultant, told Bloomberg.

“Older people can wet their pants if they come down too fast,” he said. [Bloomberg] — Kathryn Brenzel 

Related Articles

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sunnyside Yards (inset) (Credit: Getty Images and Wikipedia)

AOC resigns from Queens megadevelopment steering committee

Donald Trump with Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, Rep. Ron Kind and Sen. Cory Booker (Credit: Getty Images, iStock)

Trump’s Opportunity Zone program is under investigation

The agreement was signed today at UBC’s New York Council offices in Manhattan by Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb co-founder, Chief Strategy Officer, and Frank Spencer, General Vice President of UBC.

Airbnb hammers out partnership with carpenters’ union

Fotis Dulos (AP Images/ Erik Trautmann)

Connecticut developer Fotis Dulos charged with murder

Pier 40 and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Credit: Wikipedia and Getty Images)

Cuomo kills Pier 40 redevelopment plan

CW Realty’s Cheskie Weisz  and a rendering of 251 Front Street (Credit: CW Realty and Think Architecture and Design via New York YIMBY)

CW Realty plans luxury rental at controversial Vinegar Hill site

Governor Andrew Cuomo (Credit: Getty Images, iStock)

After calls to increase safety, Cuomo signs elevator mechanic licensing bill

A rendering of Broadway Triangle and an aerial of Broadway Triangle (Credit: Magnusson Architecture via Department of City Planning and Google Maps)

Rabsky, Spencer land $70M refi for Broadway Triangle site