In 2014, the world was amused when Thyssenkrupp, a German transnational conglomerate announced that its engineers were working on a new elevator that would not only move vertically, but sideways as well. As usual, people had that ‘wait and see’ attitude most of them waiting for the company to announce a failure after the planned trial that had been scheduled for two years after the announcement in 2016. But unfortunately for the naysayers (and very fortunate for the rest of the world) Thyssenkrupp delivered! They called their new design, the MULTI.

The elevator as we know it has remained the same in design for nearly 160 years making it one of the few things to remain the same since their invention along with such things as the Kohl pencil, the iron, the rifle and the flush toilet. You may be thinking that maybe this is ridiculous because these products look so different from their predecessors but the truth is that they are the same only flashier, if anything.

So, the question is, what was behind the idea of a sideways moving elevator?

Thyssenkrupp CEO Andreas Schierenbeck pointed out that there is a need for better and more efficient elevators in the city considering how fast cities are growing. While answering a question about the new design, he said that the old elevators was similar to having one train operating between two cities on one track rather than having multiple trains on flexible tracks. He went ahead to say that the elevators were a waste of space since it was just one cabin in typically high shafts.

The new elevators are going to use the same technology as the Japanese bullet train which means that they will be propelling themselves by magnets that ascend and move by repulsion rather than cables and ropes which has been the norm. Apart from this, the MULTI is said to make life even more efficient by reducing the time you wait for an elevator. Since the elevator travels at five meters per second, it will always be less than a minute away and get more people in one trip since the design allows for multiple cabins in one shaft. I’m sure by now, you are having a ‘whoa’ moment but what is even more impressive than all the above is the fact that the MULTI does not have a restriction in terms of how tall a building can be. Matter of fact, lift consultants say it is specifically designed to make transportation in tall buildings such as skyscrapers more efficient. So, whether you want to have a short building or one as tall as The Burj Khalifa, MULTI has you covered.

Another interesting factor is that Thyssenkrupp has managed to do on their first trial what most companies fail to do in their lifetime: have a reduced carbon footprint.

Since the shafts are half the size and are able to propel several cabins in a loop, the shaft capacity is increased by 50% and the building’s carbon footprint is decreased by 50%. So, that is great news for Mother Earth, huh? You can get to your office or residence feeling proud that you have done something to help the environment.

In conclusion, MULTI is the elevator of the future and it is soon going to be a household name just as Otis was when it came to elevators.