Around The Home

Prototype system replaces stairs and elevators with human power

An experimental prototype designed by Rombaout Labs and dubbed "Vertical Walking" uses human power  to allow movement between floors of a building with only ten percent of the effort needed to climb stairs and without the need for any external power
An experimental prototype designed by Rombaout Labs and dubbed "Vertical Walking" uses human power  to allow movement between floors of a building with only ten percent of the effort needed to climb stairs and without the need for any external power
View 3 Images
Vertical Walking systems will take up far less room in buildings than stairs or elevators
1/3
Vertical Walking systems will take up far less room in buildings than stairs or elevators
Designed by the Rombaut Frieling lab in Eindhoven, Vertical Walking uses a system of upright rails that incorporate pulleys and a clever gripping system to allow a user to incrementally move between floors in a building
2/3
Designed by the Rombaut Frieling lab in Eindhoven, Vertical Walking uses a system of upright rails that incorporate pulleys and a clever gripping system to allow a user to incrementally move between floors in a building
An experimental prototype designed by Rombaout Labs and dubbed "Vertical Walking" uses human power  to allow movement between floors of a building with only ten percent of the effort needed to climb stairs and without the need for any external power
3/3
An experimental prototype designed by Rombaout Labs and dubbed "Vertical Walking" uses human power  to allow movement between floors of a building with only ten percent of the effort needed to climb stairs and without the need for any external power

Humans are said to have evolved from an ancestor that once swung through the trees to get about, free to move through the environment in almost any direction. But today, in our modern high-rise environment, if you simply want to go up or down, it's probably fair to say we've actually devolved. Stairs, elevators, and lifts all take up precious space within buildings, and they're expensive, complicated, or require endless maintenance. Now a new human-powered system prototype dubbed Vertical Walking has been developed that requires just ten percent of the effort needed to climb stairs, but can easily move a person up a vast number of floors.

According to the designers of the Vertical Walking system, the future will see billions more people moving into urban areas where skyrocketing land prices will force apartment buildings to grow even taller. But elevators are power-hungry and take up precious space, and stairs are impractical for buildings more than a few stories high. Yet, with more buildings, less green space, and fewer opportunities to exercise, some form of regular physical movement will be essential. This is where the Vertical Walking system comes in.

Designed by the Rombaut Frieling lab in Eindhoven, Netherlands, Vertical Walking uses a system of upright rails that incorporate pulleys and a clever gripping system to allow a user to incrementally move between floors in a building. Claimed to require less than 10 percent of the effort needed to climb stairs, and with no other external energy input needed, the creators assert that the prototype has been successfully proven by a wide range of people, including an amputee and an MS sufferer.

Vertical Walking systems will take up far less room in buildings than stairs or elevators
Vertical Walking systems will take up far less room in buildings than stairs or elevators

By continually pulling up on the rails, a person seated within the unit is drawn upwards by a combination of the spring action of elasticized ropes and a tensioned pulley system, whilst being able to rest between exertions, held in place by a set of grippers on each vertical pillar.

"This keeps people moving, yet it can accommodate less able people and it requires no power at all!" said Professor Alison McGregor, chair of the biodynamics group, Imperial College London. "What more do we need?"

The experimental system has attracted attention at a range of design exhibits, including a recent exhibition at the Venice Architecture Biennale, and is now to be displayed at Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven, October 22 to 30, 2016.

The video below shows the Vertical Walking system in action.

Source: Rombout

Vertical Walking

23 comments
ljaques
This might work in a gym, with the effort returned to 100+%, but nowhere else. Muggles are lazy.
ezeflyer
Great idea. Not sure if the easily frightened will use it though.
AlexGardiner
How do I carry my nightcap tea tray plus my paper under my arm when going upstairs to bed?
AladdinConnolly
Incredibly Brilliant!
Grainpaw
Good luck moving furniture, large boxes, and doughnut carts that way.
Alien
OK for situations where individuals move one-at-a-time - but sadly, not a replacement for an elevator or escalator. Might be fun to have at home though.
Bob Flint
Coming down seems awkward and jerky, maybe some simple friction or compress some air to be used for the next trip up.
eMacPaul
If it requires less than 10% of the effort to climb stairs, won't this just make us even fatter?
b2p
I don't quite see it. For this case with an independent chair that travels it would be much like going up a rope with jumar ascenders. The person going up is definitely inputting energy with each deep knee bend, and I would say it is roughly equivalent to walking up the stairs. In each case the person must convert muscular energy into increasing potential energy which is the same at the top whether by deep knee bends or climbing stairs. The trip down involves additional work (energy) to stop yourself each increment of descent, much like stopping on each stair on the way down. I am not good at puzzles so maybe I have missed something. However, if the chair and person were balanced by a weight on the other side of a pulley, then the person could move by pulling down on the bars with a low force just enough to overcome friction, and likewise lower himself with a small force again to just overcome friction. Viola! Of course the chair would have to be locked in the down position, or the weight locked. A smaller person could then come to the chair, request a certain lesser weight be attached at the top and ride up at low effort. All well and good as long as the weights available at the top and bottom can accommodate the different people using it. The weights could be transported up and down by a "machine" behind the curtain using energy to maintain the correct weights availability. But hey, the person riding wouldn't have to worry about that.
NicoleKing
This is not going to work for older people. It looks to be pretty tough on the knees.