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Disney wants to use drones for its shows, files patents

26 August 2014, 11:14 pm EDT By Dianne Depra Tech Times
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By day, the Magical Kingdom is a breathtaking place to explore. By night, the scenes take a dramatic turn, something the introduction of drones will only make more stunning.  ( Sam Lavy )

A trip to Disneyland is always quite the experience. Now Disney is planning to take the experience further, filing patent applications to use drones in its shows and parades.

Has Disney gone military? Don't worry; it hasn't. The company's interest in unmanned aerial vehicles or drones is simply an effort to further improve its shows and parades. Three patent applications involving drones were filed on Aug. 21 by Disney's Imagineering team, the company's design and development arm.

"Presently, aerial displays have been limited in how easy it has been to alter the choreography and to provide a repeatable show," explained the patent applications. Some of the displays use complex fountain systems but even these have limitations, while other aerial shows rely on the use of fireworks which can not only be dangerous but also doesn't always provide uniform results. Sometimes, blimps can be used for aerial displays but this is only useful under certain settings.

Called "Aerial Display System with Floating Pixels," the first patent application will be making use of what Imagineering refers to as "flixels" or flying pixels. Imagine each drone as one flixel. By following a specific flight plan as they change or stick to a color assigned to them, drones will be lighting up the skies to showcase an aerial display that can complement a show or be a show on its own.

As for the second patent application known as "Aerial Display System with Floating Projection Screens," it essentially involves a multi-drone system that will be programmed to hold a projector screen up in the air for nighttime displays. Think of it like a massive screen hovering above an audience during a show or parade.

Lastly, the third patent application, "Aerial Display System with Marionettes Articulated and Supported by Airborne Devices," basically offers a new way of controlling giant puppets during a show or parade. Drones will not only fly marionettes overhead but will also control them in a more fluid manner to make their movements appear more natural.

No word yet on where Disney is planning to use these patents when approved or if the patents will even be used in the first place but the applications definitely point towards a push to take the theme park experience to the next level.

The patent applications list James Alexander Stark, Robert Scott Trowbridge and Clifford Wong as inventors.

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