A Real-life ‘Wonkavator’ That Just Debuted in Germany

New maglev technology allows for futuristic elevator that goes both up and down, side to side.

June 26, 2017 5:00 am

Thanks to new maglev technology, the German steel company Thyssenkrupp, has produced an elevator that can move both horizontally and vertically. The invention could change the way buildings are made entirely.

The Multi, as the lift’s been dubbed, is the world’s first ropeless elevator. It uses the same technology behind Japan’s bullet train and its the same tech proposed for Elon Musk’s Hyperloop system.

The futuristic invention has drawn comparisons to the Wonkavator, a fictional contraption from the Roal Dahl tale Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that moves in any direction. But, the Multi solves a real problem.

As buildings get taller, more elevators (and more shafts) need to be built to accommodate all the people traveling from floor to floor. Depending on the height of the skyscraper, these multiple shafts can take as much as 40 percent of the space on each floor, Wired reports.

Instead, Thyssenkrupp created a vertical train with multiple elevators in a single shaft powered by an autonomous system that adds or subtracts elevator cabins to accommodate the flow of people. “It’s like a metro system where you stop at the station where you want,” one engineer said.

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