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Sideways elevator could lead to taller buildings

shaft July 10, 1997
Web posted at: 5:49 p.m. EDT (2149 GMT)

From Correspondent Dick Wilson

BRISTOL, Connecticut (CNN) -- The elevator industry is moving in a new direction -- sideways. Otis, the company that developed the modern elevator, is about to unveil Odyssey, a system for moving people both vertically and horizontally, although not at the same time.

Engineers at the company's test center in Connecticut say they hope to have Odyssey ready to demonstrate for potential customers by September.

Passengers ride sideways until the elevator cab reaches a traditional elevator shaft. Then, the cab moves up or down as in a normal elevator. A single "ride" could involve several vertical and horizontal movements.


Otis sees Odyssey as a time-saver that could lead to taller buildings.

"Imagine," the Connecticut-based company says on its Web site, "traveling both horizontally and vertically from remote parking to the 60th floor sky lobby of a super-tall building in just 90 seconds, all in the same module."

Until now, building height was limited by the fact that elevator cables are only safe up to about 1,800 feet.

A series of shorter shafts allows shorter cables and much greater building heights.

The new system could make taller buildings possible because people could move through them aboard elevator cars, traveling horizontally, instead of walking.

"The passenger stays inside the cab all the time," says Joseph Bittar, Otis vice president of product strategy.icon (239K/21 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

A French architectural firm plans to use the Odyssey elevator system in a massive new office and apartment building in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia.

According to Bittar, some Japanese developers are talking about buildings about 4,000 meters tall, the equivalent of a high-rise more than two miles high. 

icon See animations of what the elevators look like in a video streaming report from CNN's Dick Wilson:
x min. xx sec. VXtreme streaming video
icon Excerpt: Elevator slideshow:
123K / 13 sec. QuickTime movie


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