I thought the Schmid Peoplemover was impossible

I thought the Schmid Peoplemover was impossible

An elevator that can go smoothly from horizontal to vertical isn’t possible… right? Turns out that the conventional wisdom is wrong, and the Schmid Peoplemover has been doing that for many years.

Camera: Moritz Janisch
Producer: Marcel Fenchel https://www.fenchel-janisch.com/
Engineering consultant: Calum Douglas
Animation: Pete McPartlan

I’m at https://tomscott.com
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46 Responses

  1. Snookbone says:

    I don’t think there’s anything quite so German as being able to set up an entirely unique, large structure in four hours, and then doing it in three anyway.

    • Python_l says:

      Sadly that’s way out of the norm here.
      There is a train station near me that was under construction for about 8 years.

    • Steve Varholy says:

      It’s also very German to engineer something very complicated when there are simpler but less optimal alternatives.

    • Echolalia Playlists says:

      …and then charging for eight hours, because they’re mechanics and eight is the industry standard (I’m not saying that’s good or bad, I’m just saying that’s how it works… and if anything it’s good because it provides stability and security for mechanics and protects customers from gross overcharging)

    • TheNewGreenIsBlue says:

      @Grumbles True… I feel the Japanese usually strike a decent balance as they tend to overengineer the processes as well… which invariably leads to simpler elements.

      Look at Toyota vs. Volkwagen. Toyotas are usually made with high levels of precision but they also engineer and pare down the processes to be repeatable and simpler to avoid errors… resulting in a good balance. 

      However, if there’s a feature that actually makes something better… they tend to add it as opposed to taking the classic American approach of if it’s not broke… don’t fix it. 

      Germans sometimes engineer something for the same of engineering it… and yes it’s probably better and stronger… but the process to reverse or fix or maintain it hasn’t had the same amount of thought put into it. They put emphasis on the physical precision of something and less on the precision of process… (though more than your typical US firm)

    • Alexander says:

      @julian shepherd
      “Right,” said Fred, “Have to take the wall down
      That there wall is gonna have to go.”

  2. Nighthawk says:

    Him bragging about being able to install that people mover in 3 hours is peak German pride haha

  3. Bom Trady says:

    He’s so proud of his invention and his engineering firm, I love it.

  4. Martin Schindler says:

    “How, in this day and age, can it be that all road traffic has to stop because of one pedestrian?”

    As a former German myself, I have to say that this might be the single most German sentence I have ever heard in my entire life. 😳

    Yes, I am fully aware that his intention was to say that he’d like to find a solution that accommodates BOTH instead of one over the other. But if taken literally, it so perfectly encapsulates the German Zeitgeist and their love of cars. 🤣

    • FlixusFlexus says:

      Des isch doch bekloppt

    • Robert Brink says:

      @Martin Schindler funny, because the other way around you can easily hold two citizenships. Germany has _ius sanguinis_ citizenship, if your parents are German, you will hold German citizenship. But, if you were born in the USA, which has _ius soli_ citizenship, you will get US citizenship. Some people didn’t realise this until they were hunted down by the IRS, even if they had never set foot on US soil since and denouncing US citizenship is a very costly process…

    • Phil Ramsden says:

      We do sometimes say “spirit of the age”.

    • Phil Ramsden says:

      (Especially fans of Hawkwind, like.)

    • Martin Schindler says:

      @Robert Brink Well, I guess that one of those nations and their respective societies can’t imagine how you could possibly ever NOT want to be a member of it, and the other gets a bit pouty if you want to broaden your horizons a little… ;p

  5. Piekay says:

    I love how Tom tried his best to translate him into “casual English”. If you understand German this is just hilarious

  6. Tom Scott says:

    Just a quick note: Herr Schmid is 80 years old. He has a gravelly voice. He is, no doubt, aware of this. If you’re thinking of making a rude joke about that, please don’t: it’ll join the ones that moderation’s already blocked (though they left one thread about it still running). I’ve got a duty of care to the people who are kind enough to appear here: please help me by being kind in turn!

  7. Victoria Duffield says:

    German railway: you’ve got 4h, overnight.
    Schmid: Halte mein Bier!

  8. Q FluffyFlapjack says:

    I absolutely love it whenever Tom brings on a cool old guy who invented something niche. That’s the absolute best use of this platform as far as I’m concerned. Living history in their own words.

  9. Robert Brink says:

    Not only it was installed one hour earlier than planned, after 20 years it is still fully functional. Kudos for tracking down the engineer who designed it.

  10. Roger Bond says:

    Herr Schmid, you are a genius. Being mobility-impaired, as soon as I grasped the concept here I loved it. It’s elegant, effortless and makes an arduous journey between platforms into a pleasant excursion. More of these, please! – which makes maintenance more… routine. (And, thank you, Tom, for not only bringing this innovation to a much larger audience but taking the time and effort to put the technical detail within our grasp. And also the guy behind it all). Three hours to install… Seriously, wow.

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