People laughed when ThyssenKrupp, a company synonymous with elevators, announced it was developing one that goes every which way. Who’d ever heard of such a thing? Everyone knows elevators go just two directions: Up and down. Some took to calling it the Wonkavator, after Willy Wonka’s wacky lift that goes sideways, slantways, and longways.
“There were some doubts,” company CEO Patrick Bass says with just a bit of understatement.
Put aside your doubts. After three years of work, the company is testing the Multi in a German tower and finalizing the safety certification. This crazy contraption zooms up, down, left, right, and diagonally. ThyssenKrupp just sold the first Multi to a residential building under construction in Berlin, and expects to sell them to other developers soon.
The future of elevators is now the present, and it’s pretty damned wild.
Multi ditches the cables that suspend conventional elevator cars in favor of magnetic levitation, the same technology used in high-speed trains and the proposed HyperLoop. Strong magnets on every Multi car work with a magnetized coil running along the elevator hoistway’s guide rails to make the cars float. Turning these coils on and off creates magnetic fields strong enough to pull the car in various directions.