In a relentless drive to render walking completely obsolete, elevators are about to get a major upgrade: the ability to go sideways, thanks to magnetic levitation technology.
German industrial behemoth ThyssenKrupp is promising that two-axis travel (“the holy grail of the elevator industry”) will revolutionize intra-building travel, and that they’ll have it operational in 2016.
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Elevators travel up and down. That’s what they do. They do it because they move by being hoisted and lowered on cables from the very top of whatever building they inhabit.
It’s not particularly efficient, because you put a lot of energy into lifting the cables that the elevator is attached to, and it’s not particularly versatile, because the cable restricts your potential directions of movement.
To solve both of these problems at once, you need a completely new non-cable propulsion system for your elevator. Something futuristic, like whatever it is that propels the turbolifts on Star Trek.
As it turns out, Star Trek turbolifts are powered by linear induction motors: they’re little maglev capsules.
And as we all know, Star Trek turbolifts can travel in any direction you like.