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Disney Drone Army Over Magic Kingdom
2014-8-30
If the term “Disney drone army” scares you, you might not want to keep reading.

The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) this month submitted patent applications for three inventions that would involve the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, according to filings with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. The patents, which appear to be related to entertainment displays at Disney’s theme parks, will necessitate what the company describes as a “plurality” of drones for “presenting an aerial display over an audience of spectators.” The displays include such wonders as flying projection screens and a synchronized display with floating pixels, or “flixels.” One patent envisions a giant Disney-style marionette controlled by flying robots.

The patents are credited to three inventors -- Clifford Wong, James Alexander Stark and Robert Scott Trowbridge -- whom MarketWatch identified as part of Disney’s "Imagineering" team. In their notes, the inventors say the drones will use pre-programmed flight plans to control their positions within the display air space.

Each patent includes a series of diagrams, one of which features a marionette that looks like a giant Jack Skellington, the lead character from Tim Burton’s 1993 animated feature “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” According to the patent, the marionette would be supported by lines extending between its appendages and a fleet of drones. In the patent summary, the inventors explain that they were inspired to create the system, in part, because they wanted to create displays of Disney characters that are more faithful to how Disney portrays them.

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