A Great Idea I Never Had. Better Elevator Automation, no Buttons in Elevator.

After my second year at engineering school (Cornell University), I spent the summer working in a dream job as an intern at the world famous Ford Design Center in Dearborn Michigan.  The group I worked in was an elite group of engineers whose responsibilities were to figure out better ways to build the cars that would come out in 5 years.  Literally, the sky was the limit for what we could do or propose doing.  I remember one evening walking around the cars made of clay with Charlie Haddad who was the director of our engineering group.  Charlie suggested I look at each car and think about what could be better.  I remember him saying “just clear you mind and think, spend real time on it, don’t make it a passing thought”.  Today, while staying at the Sheraton Hotel in New Orleans this week for Teched 2010,  I believe I’ve seen one of Charlie’s students work.  Let me explain more.


My First Elevator Experience

I got in the elevator for the first time without really paying attention and discovered about 5 people in it and no buttons.  My first thought was I just must not see the buttons.  I then realized there were none (so I got out). In the elevator lobby, there was a simple keypad where you enter the floor you want to go to and it immediately tells you which of the six elevators will take you there.  When the elevator arrives, on the door edge, is a list of floors that elevator will take you to.

The Benefits

Immediately, I realized the benefits of this could be huge.  Having recently completed a project where we optimized shipments from supplies to customers (on trucks)  by doing consolidation of loads to delivery addresses, I realized this was the exact same problem.  The benefits are obviously reduced cost and faster delivers (of people to floors).

The Possibilities

I just wonder how much programming has gone into this.  I can see that there could be a program written to optimize the flow that would take into consideration things like how long it takes to get to the floor, how many people max should be on each elevator (it assumes I assume that you are just 1 or 2 people).  I think the interface should optionally ask how many people will ride.  For example, if you are at a convention, there maybe 10 people all going to the same floor which might require 2 elevators.  How about energy savings?  I can see it would be cheaper to use just one elevator that stops at all the floors, but using all 6 elevators would deliver them faster.

Conclusion

Today, I’ve seen the elevators of the future. I can see taking this one step further by putting an RFID tag in my key so that when I get in the elevator, it knows what floor to take me to.

What are you thoughts?  If you know anything else about this technology, please post it as a comment below. I could not find much on the subject by searching the internet.  Maybe you will have better luck.

About Peter Kellner

Peter is a software professional specializing in mobile and web technologies. He has also been a Microsoft MVP for the past 7 years. To read more about Peter Kellner and his experience click here. For information about how Peter Kellner might be able to help you with your project click here.

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Comments

  1. Bill Mitchell says:

    You have a real good grasp of this technology however I would like to add one more aspect. The accessibility features. At the bottom of the keypad you will find a slightly larger button called the accessibility key it has a symbol of a wheelchair and three raised dots. When this button is pressed before you enter your destination it tells the system to provide you a little more walk time to the elevator, it will put you in a less crowded elevator so you can turn around in a wheelchair or walker. It provides many visual and audio announcements to assist you if your hearing impaired or visually challenged. If you are a regular rider in the building your special needs can be input with a cardreader so you don’t even need to touch a button. It’s a real exciting technology.

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