Disney's "imagineers" are no strangers to using complex machinery to create spectacles. And patents filings from last week show the company is interested exploring drones as a way to spice up events at the company's chain of theme parks -- including flying screens and "blimp-sized" puppets suspended and animated by drones.
The puppet patent, titled "Aerial display system with marionettes articulated and supported by airborne devices" describes huge, potentially modular, figures that could be manipulated by unmanned aerial systems. It includes the above example of a giant Jack Skellington marionette that looks like it could have stepped straight out of a nightmare, before Christmas or otherwise.
Two other patents deal with flying visual displays. One, titled "Aerial display system with floating projection screens" is pretty self-explanatory. Another is for an "aerial display system with floating pixels," of "flixels" which would turn the sky or some other airspace into a display "screen."
But just because Disney patented these drone-driven devices doesn't mean they'll be used in Disney parks or other venues anytime soon. Companies patent technologies that never come to fruition all the time, either because they simply want to lay claim to an idea rather than deploy it or because the technology turns out to be too complicated or costly to execute at the time.
The Federal Aviation Administration is working on rules for commercial drone use. While all the patent filings mention the need for safety features, the manipulation of giant marionettes and droves of flying screens or "flixels" in close proximity to huge crowds of families seems like exactly the kind of use that might raise concerns from regulators.