Disney Patents a Drone-Based Painting System

castle couture
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Perhaps Disney is tired of getting a ladder to paint the top of their castles. Due to its recent publication, we’ve learned that, on October 31st 2017, the company filed a patent described as “an autonomous painting system for painting a target surface of a structure,” which would use a support arm to carry spray paint.

The patent also notes how this system would operate with very little flight control from a on-the-ground pilot. The patent states…

“The drone has an onboard controller so painting is autonomous with no human input being required. The drone stores a 3D model of the target structure annotated with the drone trajectory plus commands to control the pan-tilt paint nozzle to perform the painting. At runtime, the controller uses a sensor to view the target structure and localizes itself. The drone then traverses the stored trajectory and implements the painting commands to paint the 3D structure’s surfaces.”

The patent goes on to suggest that painter drones would be relevant to theme park maintenance not just as a cost saving measure, but also for their ability to provide the exact same look every time a repair is needed. As the patent states…

“Painting, including painting of large structures such as scenery and ride component in amusement parks, generally remains a task performed using human labor (i.e., painters). One issue with such conventional painting is that it requires skilled labor and is expensive. Another problem with conventional painting methods is that some large structures, such as rockwork and other scenery at a theme park or architectural ornamentation of nearly any large facility, are difficult to access by the painters (e.g., rollercoaster scaffolds and rails).”

“A further problem with conventional painting is that many structures have surfaces decorated with multi-color designs and/or textures that have to be repainted over time to maintain their appearance. However, the painters will not be the same with each repainting process such that it may be difficult to retain the original appearance with each painter diverging to some degree from the original painter of each surface.”

Hopefully such technology can be utilized in the future to provide further upkeep and less visual downtime for our favorite Disney buildings. It might also help the parks stay off our WDWNT maintenance reports!

About the author

Nathan Hartman

A sunshine state resident, Nathan is an avid Disney parks wonk as well as a university film professor.

Twitter: @somestuffisaid

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Karina Wright
Karina Wright

And, what happens to the scenic artists? They lose their jobs. Woo hoo. Welcome, robot overlords.