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Disney Files Drone Patents

Walt Disney Co. has filed three patents to use unmanned aircraft in entertainment productions at its theme parks. The Burbank entertainment and media company would use the drones to carry projection screens and marionettes, according to patents filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The drones would facilitate large-scale light shows and other projected displays that have proven popular but are impractical in a theme park due to the lack of appropriate structures, the patent stated. “As a result, there remains a need for new technologies for generating aerial displays, such as a display involving projection of light and images into or out of the sky or an air space above an audience of spectators,” the patent read. The marionettes would be supported to the unmanned aircraft with tethers and have appendages that could move. The patents application said that using drones would be an improvement over flying characters in the shape of blimps or balloons filled with gases and that had little or awkward movement. Pictures filed with the patent show a large screen held in place by the drones next to a Magic Kingdom castle. The application did not state whether Disney planned to use the drones at Disneyland in Anaheim or other specific parks, or how much testing the company may have done in preparation for the patent application, which was published on Thursday. The company did not return calls for comment. Shares closed down 11 cents, or a fraction of a percent, to $90.38 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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