Go Up, Down, and Sideways as the Wonkavator Gets Real

No, it’s a Wonkavator. An elevator can only go up and down, but the Wonkavator can go sideways, and slantways, and longways, and backways … squareways, and front ways, and any other ways that you can think of. It can take you to any room in the whole factory just by pressing one of these buttons. Any of these buttons. Just press a button, and *zing*! You’re off. And up until now, I’ve pressed them all… except one.

– Willy Wonka, from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory


ThyssenKrupp, the German steel and engineering company, says its next generation of elevators will make Willy’s Wonkavator more-or-less a real thing by using magnetic levitation (maglev) technology to travel up, down and side-to-side in the buildings of the future. Maglev elevators and transport systems use a strong magnetic field to keep moving object from touching the tracks they run one. That greatly reduces friction and makes high speeds possible using only a small driving force. The technology is ideal for high speed trains because it is quiet and requires less energy than traditional locomotives use.

The ThyssenKrupp system will allow maglev elevators to travel up a shaft, then move sideways to another parallel shaft before descending. This closed loop system means many cars can be in the same elavator shaft at the same time, increasing capacity and decreasing waiting times. It also does away with all the motors, cables and pulleys used in traditional elevator systems.

The new system will be called “MULTI”, and ThyssenKrupp says it is “the holy grail of the elevator industry.” Designed for mid- and high-rise buildings 1500 feet tall or higher, the system operates at 5 meters per second. While elevators in some high rise buildings operate at up to 20 meters a second, the extra number of cars in the MULTI system means it does not need to work at high speed to transport people efficiently.

ThyssenKrupp plans to have a working prototype of its amazing maglev elevator Wonkavator system installed and running by the end of 2016.


Maglev Elevators Will Go Up, Down, And Sideways

Maglev elevator

Source | Images: Gizmodo.