From a world of pure imagination and into reality, a German industrial firm is developing a trans-axis elevator with capabilities akin to those you might remember from fiction (or Hollywood). We’re referring, of course, to the fictional traveling compartment operated by the London-based chocolate magnate from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Like Willy Wonka’s glass version, ThyssenKrupp’s MULTI elevator will offer intra-building travel, going up and down as well as sideways.  The only thing missing from the setup is a sociopathic dandy manning the controls and an ability to fly. 

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Assuming a lack of magic and Roald Dahl, what will ThyssenKrupp use to create “the holy grail of the elevator industry”? Magnets, of course. The cables that currently enable elevators to go up and down restrict horizontal travel. Magnetic levitation, the same technology used on some types of monorails, will provide lifting force and stability for this elevator of the future. Even better, there’s no chance the magnets will get tangled. 

Trans-axis mobility isn’t the only expected improvement on the horizontally limited elevators we use today. MULTI should, theoretically, be far more energy efficient. IEEE Spectrum reports:

MULTI will be more energy efficient than traditional cable elevators, and by running multiple cabins moving in a loop at up to 5 m/s, the maglev elevators will be able to carry 50 percent more people while reducing wait times to between 15 and 30 seconds.

The shafts themselves will also be about half the size of elevator shafts that rely on cables, which means more room for developers to put in something useful, like even more elevators.

ThyssenKrupp is installing a MULTI prototype in an 800-foot building going up now in Rottweil, Germany. You can check it out in 2016—golden ticket not required. 

Cover image courtesy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Warner Bros; story image courtesy ThyssenKrupp