London: For escalators, it’s no longer just up and down. A newly invented moving staircase, called Levytator, will be able to twist, bend, spiral and even snake around sharp corners.
It consists of curved modules like those used in sushi restaurant conveyor belts, reports the Independent.
Inventor, Jack Levy, professor of mechanical engineering at London’s City University, 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 pounds 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 faults, both have to be taken out of service and they can’t run in the same direction.