What the Future of Condo Elevators Could Look Like

Wednesday Jan 15th, 2020


Whether you love them or hate them, elevators are a necessary part of condo living. As buildings get taller, elevator manufacturers have been forced to innovate to keep up with modern-day needs. In 1857, Otis Elevator invented the first passenger elevator in a five-storey building in New York City. This innovation ultimately paved the way for the rise – literally – of skyscrapers across the world and changed the face of urban landscapes forever.

Despite the fact that elevators can now take us as high as 163 storeys (in the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building), the technology hasn’t evolved much since they were first invented. Today’s elevators are still heavily dependent on the original system of cables and pulleys, leaving the door wide open for major innovations. Here’s how elevator manufacturers have been thinking outside the box.

Elevators that go sideways

ThyssenKrupp is currently working on a rope-less, magnetic elevator called the Multi that uses motors on tracks instead of cables and pulleys. The tracks can rotate, which makes this design a game-changer as it will allow passengers to travel side to side, diagonally, as well as up and down, both inside and outside of a building. Multi can also accommodate multiple cars in the same elevator shaft with algorithms ensuring cars never collide or get in the way of each other. This saves on real estate space, energy, and reduces wait times during rush hour traffic. This system is undergoing tests in Rottweil, Germany, and it’s expected that it will receive certification for Canada as early as mid-2022.

Elevators that go up really, really fast

In 2016, Mitsubishi Electric set a record with the NexWay system, which can travel as fast as 73.8 Kilometres per hour. To compare, the high-speed elevators in the CN Tower only go 22 Kilometres per hour. The NexWay elevators were installed in the Shanghai Tower, gathering multiple Guinness World Records for being the world’s fastest elevator, the tallest elevator in a building, and the fastest double-deck elevator. It takes only a minute to go from the basement level to the observation deck on the 121st floor. Plus, thanks to the vibration resistance technology and the pressurized cabin, passengers don’t have to worry about their ears popping.

Elevators with no buttons

Imagine entering an elevator only to find there are absolutely no buttons to press. It’s not a mistake; instead it’s an efficient way to get multiple passengers where they need to go faster. Instead of stepping inside the elevator and pressing a button, you must select which floor you want to go to before you enter the elevator. There is a touch-screen panel where you select which floor you want to go to, then it assigns you a letter, to which you must head towards the lettered elevator indicated on the panel. You board the elevator and it automatically takes you to the floor you requested.

This system may be confusing for first-timers, but  it’s incredibly efficient because it analysis which car is closest to you, which direction it’s going, how many people are waiting on what floors, and gathers all this information to ensure that you get in a car as fast as possible with the least amount of stops on the way. This destination dispatch system has rolled out across modern office buildings in the country, so it won’t be long before they start appearing in residential condos.  

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