Mitsubishi develops ultra-high-speed elevator technology


February 3, 2012

The Shanghai Tower (the tall one) will be one of the first buildings to have ultra-high-speed elevators developed by Mitsubishi (Image: Gensler Architects)

The Shanghai Tower (the tall one) will be one of the first buildings to have ultra-high-speed elevators developed by Mitsubishi (Image: Gensler Architects)

Due to the number of stairs that needed to be climbed to reach the top, buildings of over six storys were a rarity until the 19th century when the development of passenger elevators - along with advances in building materials and techniques - enabled the construction of taller and taller buildings. As skyscrapers continue to reach ever higher, elevators are required to carry more people further, faster. Mitsubishi already has the first problem licked with the development of elevators able to carry 80 people at once. Now it has tackled speed with technologies that enable ultra-high-speed elevators to travel at more than 60 km/h (37 mph or 1,000 meters a minute).

The various technologies that Mitsubishi has developed to be incorporated into the world's fastest elevators include:

  • a single motor with two grouped three-phase winding coils and parallel drive systems that feature a built-in converter to regenerate electricity and cut power consumption by over 30 percent
  • hydraulic driven clamp-type disk brakes
  • lighter traveling cables enabled by encasing a wider diameter steel core in a lightweight sheath material
  • a new active roller guide to reduce vibration from the guide rails and wind at ultra-high speeds
  • streamlined aerodynamic car cover with a sound insulating cage.
  • safety gear shoes constructed from fine ceramic to provide high resistance to heat, abrasion and shock and provide stability even if high frictional heat when the safety gear is activated
  • air pressure control to minimize rapid changes in atmospheric pressure

Mitsubishi says these technologies are being incorporated into elevators for the 632-meter (2,073 ft) Shanghai Tower currently under construction in China.

Source: Mitsubishi via ubergizmo

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

Thanks to the commenters who pointed out that 1,000 meters a second would obviously be quite a feat for an elevator. The article has been corrected to read a slightly more realistic 1,000 meters a minute.


Another case where Invented here, fat and sassy executive cadre being out thought by someone else elsewhere. And of course, beat out.

The acceleration curves that Mitsubishi has are astounding.

You get on the elevator, the doors close and wait a few minutes or seconds and the doors open again and you are in a totally different environment.

No sense of movement at all.

You really have to admire them for that.

No bouncing around, no misalignments, simply perfection.


Island Architect

I would get rid of the steel cable altogether and have the motor/generator on the car driving through a rack and pinion gears, with the power delivered through the guide rails not dissimilar to a model railroad. Aside from all the other brakes and safeties I would have the bottom of the elevator shaft shaped to act as a pneumatic cushion/brake.


All good and well for going up, but I\'m waiting for someone to take the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) approach to coming down fast. A 2000-foot fire pole would be an absolute blast to slide down. No electricity needed. All you\'d need is some kind of airlock vestibule at each floor\'s platform so there\'s no stack effect up the column. I\'d even pay a few bucks to slide down. It could be vertical transportation and thrill ride all in one.


For a taste of what is possible, ride the elevator in Taipei\'s 101 Tower. It is double-decked, has very little sense of acceleration, no left/right rocking, no wind noise. But it gets to the top in something less than a minute. Looking forward to going up in the Shanghai Tower, watching it being built, now!

Paul Snyder

Are there such things as magnetic levitation elevators yet?

Sambath Pech

I\'d bet that magnetic levitation is not practical due to weight issues and will remain so until magnets fall into the correct cost/safety parameters at lower weights.

Gary Richardson

Really??? 60km/h...OMG. it's too fast...

Thái Mèo
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