The city of Guangzhou, China, is about to take high-speed elevators up a notch. In 2016, the 116-story CTF Finance Centre will open its elevator doors, becoming the tallest building in the city and home to the world’s fastest elevators. The elevators, built by Hitachi, will travel at speeds of nearly 45 miles an hour. For comparison, the elevators of Chicago’s Willis Tower travel at a little over 18 miles per hour.
Dr Gina Barney, an expert in lift technology, said protecting passengers from discomfort was a big challenge for high-speed lifts. "When you're travelling that distance, you're going to get pressures on your ears changing," she told the BBC. "That's probably the most significant problem with high-speed travel in buildings - people suffer some pain."
Hitachi said guiding "rollers" that adapted to warping caused by wind pressure would mean the ride remained smooth. And brakes able to resist extreme heat would activate in the "unlikely" event of a malfunction
In 2004, Popular Mechanics predicated that the then-fastest eleator, the Taipei 101 "could prove little more than a training exercise." And, indeed, Gizmodo reports that the new skyscraper will also include 52 elevators that run at somewhat normal speeds, 13 high-speed elevators and 28 double-decker elevator cars, which are becoming more common in high-rise buildings. Two of the 95 elevators will run at the super high-speed. It's a pretty incredible ascent for a technology that, Popular Mechanics wrote, has somewhat mysterious origins.
No one is quite sure who came up with the idea for the elevator--or when. In 1823, something resembling the modern elevator made its debut in London. This "ascending room" took 20 paying guests to the top of a 130-ft. tower for a spectacular view of the city.