Although it appears that the FAA has not yet made Disney’s response to its latest round of questions public, it sent notification to the company yesterday advising that new regulations require the FAA to be delayed in responding to the original request. At issue is that the request was made as an exemption to Rule 333 under the now-ironically named ‘FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012,’ or FMRA. According to the notice, the portion of Rule 333 that governed the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) — or vehicles (UAVs) as the industry often refers them to as — was a stopgap until more permanent regulations were in place. Enter Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 107.
The Federal Aviation Administration has responded to Disney’s request for an exemption under Section 333, permitting the company’s use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for theme park entertainment. After a period of time soliciting comments from the public — 12 in all, most decidedly against granting Disney the exemption — the FAA has responded, but with a series of questions seeking more clarification on Disney’s intents and implementation. The list of questions the FAA is requiring answers for before making a final determination are as follows:
- Will flight operations be conducted at night only? After twilight? Will the hours of operation coincide with the fireworks display?
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.
We have been following Disney Theme Parks’ plans to incorporate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) — or drones — into its nighttime entertainment experiences for years, beginning with the initial patent application through their recent filing to actually seek FAA permission to use drones at the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts.
The filing revealed that Disney plans on using 3DR quadcopters with a ‘flixel’ payload of no more than five pounds in weight, but until now, it was more or less assumed that it would be a simple screen, consisting of simple elements that would combine with other drones’ payloads to develop a larger picture, such as what Intel had recently shown, which was effectively simulating fireworks.
Back in summer of 2014, Stitch Kingdom broke news that Walt Disney Parks and Resorts was working on an intricate system using controlled drones to supplement its nighttime entertainment, proposing to: use drones to control massive marionettes (such as an exampled Jack Skellington) and/or use drones to carry screens that could act as what they dubbed ‘flixels,’ or ‘floating pixels.’
In late October of 2015, Disney decided to move ahead with these plans by filing an exemption from the FAA under section 333 which governs the commercial use of drones. The application was published on December 31 and has not yet been answered by the FAA.
Everyone knows drones are where it’s at. Whether you’re looking to deliver packages to customers’ doorsteps, target and destroy someone from thousands of miles away or looking to entertain thousands of guests, you’ll need an army of drones.
Thanks to a series of recently published patent applications, we now have an idea of where Walt Disney Imagineering is headed with future plans for night-time entertainment to take place over lagoons (which are specifically mentioned in the applications), although the technology can be applied virtually anywhere.