Disney files patent for drone-controlled puppets

| Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Disney is interested in 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 — patent filings from last week show.

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 often patent technologies that never come to fruition, usually because the technology turns out to be too complicated or costly to execute.

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.

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