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Escalator design goes around the bend

08 October, 2010

A British engineer has come up with a new design for escalators that allows them to be built in any shape – even freeform curves. Jack Levy, an Emeritus Professor of Mechanical Engineering at City University in London, describes his Levytator is the first significant rethink of escalator design since the moving stairway was invented in 1897

Unlike traditional escalator designs, where the out-of-use steps move underneath those in use, the Levytator (above) uses a continuous loop of curved modules, which can follow any path upwards, flatten and straighten out, and descend once more, carrying passengers at all times.

The system can be arranged in any configuration and is said to also offer several practical advantages – including the ability to carry twice as many people as a conventional escalator, at a similar cost.

“As all of the steps can be accessed from above, maintenance can be carried out much more easily,” says Levy. “It also means that no excavation is required when installing the Levytator. This could be particularly useful in the heritage sector, where the system could be placed on top of a staircase in a stately home, providing better access for elderly and disabled visitors, but not destroying the fabric of the building.”

The technology has been patented in the UK, Europe, the US and China. City University London is now seeking strategic partnerships with architects and manufacturers to take the Levytator to market.

A video of a working model and computer simulations can be viewed online.

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