It’s become one of the world’s worst kept secrets that Disney Parks has devised of a way to use drones in its nighttime entertainment offerings and is currently lobbying the FAA to allow them to do so. Almost on a weekly basis now, we are learning more and more of just how Disney is attempting to accomplish such a feat, pioneering methods and technology to do so.
Exactly one week ago, we covered a patent application that demonstrates the ‘flixel’ system being composed of a pico-projector and a mesh screen and now Disney has potentially revealed plans on how the system will sustain itself.
It’s US Patent Application #20160039541 and it’s titled ‘ROBUST AND AUTONOMOUS DOCKING AND RECHARGING OF QUADROTORS.’ Essentially it acts to solve one major shortcoming of drone usage: flight time. In order to keep drones viable, the size of their batteries is considerably small, and thus so is their allotted time in the air, even on a full charge. While there’s no issue with a drone recognizing it’s low on juice and safely landing, where it lands and how it gets re-charged is more-or-less a manual matter. While some companies have already developed landing pads that automatically charge, Disney — or perhaps more appropriately, Disney Research –has found a way to circumvent the need for human interaction — or for the drone to have to land on the ground at all, for that matter.
What Disney is proposing is a charging base which is small and light enough to be mounted on a pole for example. The base has a camera of its own that it can use to detect a drone above it using a pattern of infrared emitting lights. When the drone is in position above the base, the base sends wireless commands to the drone to lower its thrust and to slowly and safely land on the base’s platform which is designed to receive the drone and position it automatically to not only accept charging, but to have the ability to lock it into place as well during the charging process. When the drone is juiced up, it will be released from the base and can then relaunch itself from the base.