Skytrak - A New Era in Vertical Transportation
Lerch Bates are pioneering a revolution in vertical transportation for its clients. Nicknamed ‘Skytrak’ this radically new vertical transportation system will not only allow multiple cars to travel in one shaft, thereby enabling a quantum increase in handling capacity, but also offer architects and building designers a whole new degree of freedom for passenger cars to travel around curves and even around a complete circular path as shown here.
Recent inventions include both a low speed (2.5m/sec or less) gearless lantern pinion drive or a high speed (2.5m/sec or faster) linear motor drive. The latter is the culmination of nearly thirty years of work, on and off, with a variety of academic institutions sponsoring PhD students to research the potential application of linear motor technology to vertical transportation services.
That body of knowledge is now sufficient to enable us to know that we will be able to deliver these exciting, novel solutions for our clients in the short term. Such work has included government sponsored building of prototypes under the DTI’s SMART award programme, client feasibility studies and work with specialist partners.
“Skytrak” technology will enable a huge increase in the efficiency of vertical transportation in the same way that double deck or TWIN systems have provided a quantum increase in efficiency over single deck lifts. The low speed drive and its application to pairs of adjacent vertical shafts represents the modern day equivalent of a “paternoster” lift system which conventionally drove a number of small cabins around an endless loop with passengers stepping in and out of the cabins as they passed floors.
With the low speed ‘Skytrak’ drive the cabins are driven by means of a fixed vertical rack configured as a central steel “spine” between two adjacent shafts. The lantern pinion drive is provided by two circular gearless linear motors held “on board” the cabin. The pinions are manufactured from new composite materials that have excellent wear and damping properties so that a low noise low speed drive can be provided with a full range of speed control. A section through one of the permanent magnet motors is shown here.
The cabins are transferred between adjacent shafts at the top and bottom of the building using a simple novel rotating transfer mechanism as shown here in plan (patent pending). Cars are driven on to a vertically pivoting section of track where they stop. The track is driven through 180 degrees and the car is thereby transferred from an “up” to a “down” shaft or vice versa at the base of the building. By using a “through” car with doors to the front and rear the car doors couple with the landing doors in the conventional manner in both the “up” and “down” shafts.
Cars may, as required, be allowed to pass beyond the rotating track sections and park in sections of the track “off line” to be cleaned or serviced with the remaining cars continuing to circulate around both shafts and continuing to provide service to building users.
Although initially aimed at simply being able to provide multiple lift cars travelling in the same direction in a vertical shaft a variation of the technology will enable “people mover” capsules, such as shown here, that can combine horizontal with vertical movement. Such technology is not only feasible but a practical solution to deploy and will radically change the way people and materials can move around a building in the future.
‘Skytrak’ will open up a totally new “degree of freedom” for architects and building designers in the way transportation systems can be designed and planned much as computer designed and controlled machining has enabled building structures and cladding to evolve into virtually unlimited geometries.
Lerch Bates are heading up a consortium of companies ultimately capable of supplying the ‘Skytrak‘ solution to architects, developers and major contractors whilst maintaining their independence. Also shown here is an early prototype design for a 5m length of track containing three motor stator sections and two so-called “retarder” sections for the high speed linear motor drive.
‘Skytrak’ technology will now enable us to provide high speed inclined lifts and lifts running on a curved trajectory without the limitations associated with rope drive technology. The inherent problems for slow down from high speed safely and reliably have also been addressed by a recent invention by Mike Godwin (UK patent pending).
Some of the specialist companies we are working with to realise the prototype Skytrak transportation system include;
Looking at the wider impact of new technology, Adrian Godwin, Chairman of Lerch Bates, has recently applied for a patent for a novel design of “autonomous capsule” that can store enough energy on board to make a journey lasting some minutes (UK patent pending).
Skytrak uses ‘green’ energy efficient and quiet drive technology and will undoubtedly be one of a range of new technologies that will radically change the way we design buildings especially in our ever more densely populated city centres. Current projections indicate that new building forms could be constructed saving up to 70% of the core space currently consumed by conventional lift equipment and solutions.
To learn even more about this exciting invention please download the presentation below: