Professor unveils new twist on the humble escalator

Architects and developers queue up for a chance to install the Levytator – the moving staircase which can glide round corners

After being forced to go in just two directions, up and down, for more than a century, escalators are finally getting a little freedom. A newly invented moving staircase will be able to twist, bend, spiral and even snake around sharp corners.

The Levytator – named for its inventor, Jack Levy, professor of mechanical engineering at London's City University – consists of curved modules like those used in sushi restaurant conveyor belts.

A YouTube film showing a working model went viral following its release, scoring almost 250,000 hits. Among those it has attracted are architects and developers keen to put it into new buildings.

Sweeping Levytator arcs could appear in shopping centres and public buildings in as little as 18 months, said David Chan, of City University. A science museum could even turn its escalators into a DNA-like double helix, the university suggested.

One private finance company said the invention had clinched crucial funding for a still-secret property development worth several hundred million pounds. "The question now is whether to buy 16 or 32 of them," said Tony Clark of Bond Asian Ventures (UK).

Professor Levy said he got the idea after a lifetime travelling on the London Underground. "I wondered why all the escalators had to be straight," he said. "Sometimes it's really convenient to go round a corner."

In conventional escalators, the steps are turned upside down and looped underneath the staircase to take them back to the start. So an "up" escalator and a "down" escalator would have two separate loops, typically costing £100,000 each.

But in the Levytator, when the steps reach the top, they turn left or right under the floor until they get to the start of the down flight, forming a single closed loop. This means that fewer steps are required, reducing the cost.

And since maintenance can all be done from above, it won't take weeks or months to rebuild them. "Traditional escalators developed topsy-turvy, but we're starting with a clean sheet of paper," said Professor Levy. However, if one side has a fault, both have to be taken out of service and they can't run in the same direction.

He believes the Levytator will be safer than other models since it won't have a gap between the stairs and the walls into which people and things can become jammed, he said. "Worldwide, there are 10,000 accidents on escalators every year, including several deaths. On two occasions I've seen people piling up at the bottom of an escalator and had to press the emergency stop button."

The first working escalators were invented in the US in 1896, and the first in Britain was installed at Harrods in Knightsbridge in 1898.

London Underground experimented with a spiral escalator in 1906 at Holloway Road station but it was withdrawn for safety reasons. A Japanese company has sold a curved escalator since the mid-1980s, though it lacks the flexibility of the UK design.

Watch the video: tinyurl.com/2vml8aw

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
Angel Di Maria is shown the red card
tech
Sport
Roger Federer after his win over Tomas Berdych
sport
Life and Style
News in briefs: big pants in 'Bridget Jones's Diary'
fashionBig knickers are back
Sport
James Milner is set to sign for Liverpool this week despite rival interest from Arsenal
sportReds baulk at Benteke £32.5m release clause
News
The controversial Motor Neurone Disease Association poster, featuring sufferer Michael Smith, has drawn a series of angry complaints
newsThis one has been criticised for its 'threatening tone'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - .NET, MVC

    £34000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Designer

    £35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Designer is re...

    Recruitment Genius: Junior Project Manager - Technical

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is looking for a Jun...

    Recruitment Genius: Graduate Trainee

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Cloud ERP Solution Provide...

    Day In a Page

    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific
    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    Dame Colette Bowe - interview
    When do the creative juices dry up?

    When do the creative juices dry up?

    David Lodge thinks he knows
    The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

    Fashion's Cher moment

    Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
    Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

    Health fears over school cancer jab

    Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
    Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

    Weather warning

    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
    LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

    High hopes for LSD

    Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
    German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

    Saving Private Brandt

    A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral