Underground transportation systems are massive entities designed and built by talented engineers and have stood the test of time in cities all over the world. While they share durability, they also all share one problem: accessibility. With so few stations in New York City and London offering elevators (that are often out of service), people have to forgo taking a train to their destinations if they’re unable to walk or climb stairs.

A German engineering company, ThyssenKrupp, is hoping to help solve this problem with a prototype of a  mag-lev elevator, an elevator that goes up and down as well as sideways. The futuristic elevator is called the “Multi” and works by using magnetic levitation to move the cabins through one loop-de-loop shaft at the same time. The magnetic coils on the track repel magnetics on the cabins. This moves the riders around to their destinations whether up, down or sideways.

An architecture firm in London wants to eventually bring this technology to London’s Underground. Bringing this elevator to public transportation systems may be cost prohibitive, but it is a innovative solution to a real accessibility problem.

Written by IEEE on July 27, 2016