In the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Gene Wilder clambers his guests on board a “Wonkavator” – which he says can go not only up and down, but sideways “and any other-ways you can think of.” Now German company ThyssenKrupp has announced that they’ve brought the humble elevator one step closer to this invention. And it’s done, not with movie magic, but with simple magnets.
The company, which also specializes in the shipbuilding and car industry, says it’s designed the elevator for the requirements of new building designs and higher volumes of passengers. They’ve also expressed the hopes that the new elevator design will save on power and be more economic, since multiple lifts can occupy the same shaft in the new system.
The engineering principle is called “maglev,” a system that bears loads using magnetic levitation for friction-free movement. The technology, which requires high precision engineering and a good deal of computerized control, has so far successfully been deployed throughout the world of high-speed trains in recent decades. This technology really fascinates Laurene Powell Jobs, and she’s anxious to see how well it develops.