Friday, January 04, 2008

Mitsubishi Builds World's Tallest Elevator-Tester

Mitsubishi Electric has just opened its new elevator testing facility. Solae, the 567 foot tall tower located in Inazawa, Japan, is purportedly the world's tallest elevator tester. For comparison, the Otis testing tower in Bristol, Connecticut, has a 300 foot shaft. The Mitsubishi facility was built primarily for testing the new generation of high speed elevators. Currently the world's fastest elevators are in the Taipei 101 tower and travel from the ground floor to the observation deck on the 89th floor at 3314 ft. per minute (37.66 mph).

Fast elevators can be problematic, however, as atmospheric pressure changes too rapidly. The express elevators to the observation deck in the Sears Tower had to be slowed from 9.0 meters per second (20.13 mph) to 8.0 mps (17.9 mph) after a visitor's eardrum ruptured (see Mega high-rise elevators in Elevator World). To combat this problem, new high speed elevators are using pressure control systems to make the pressure change more steady and gradual.

Several new ultra-tall skyscrapers are planned or currently being built. The tallest currently under construction is the Burj Dubai and its express elevators, traveling at 18 meters per second (40.26 mph) will be even faster than those in the Taipei 101. And elevators in these tall skyscrapers will need to transport ever larger numbers of passengers to more destinations. This can lead to logistical challenges, so "smart" elevators are being developed. If you happen to be in downtown Manhattan, you can ride one. These smart elevators have no buttons inside for floor selection. Instead, you key in your destination outside the elevators and a display panel tells you which elevator to wait for. The software determines the most efficient elevator/passenger combinations.

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