Report: Universal Seeks to Use Drones in Theme Parks

According to the Orlando Business Journal, Universal City Studios LLC, a sister division of Universal Parks & Resorts, published a patent in late November titled “Special effects techniques.” The patent states that “a ground controller and an unmanned aerial vehicle” will be used in the system; the ground controller can receive and transmit signals. The aerial vehicle (multicopter) could be incorporated in “live shows, character interactions, . . . theme park rides, or other theme park or entertainment events.”

“The special effects module includes a special effects material; and a special effects module controller configured to cause the special effects material to be released in response to an activation signal from the ground controller. . . . The ground controller is configured to generate respective activation signals to the respective unmanned aerial vehicles to activate respective special effects during the running time of the theme park show.”

“An unmanned aerial vehicle, e.g., multicopter, is outfitted to provide a special effect or special effects, becoming an untethered special effects platform. The specials effects delivered by such a platform could include water effects, scent cannons, compressed air blasts, steam blasts, theatrical smoke or fog, snow, bubbles, confetti, flame effects, or directional speakers and other audio effects.”

“In one embodiment, the untethered special effect vehicle may be used in conjunction with a live show. The placement or path of the special effect may be pre-choreographed or provided in real-time to correspond to the show. That is, the operation of the special effect vehicle may be triggered to activate during the show and to travel along the pre-programmed path, as well as deliver special effects at designated times and/or locations.”

Such technology can be implemented in park rides “to execute random or pre-determined flight plans about the location of the ride to enhance the guest immersion.” For example, a determined signal may execute a special effect, such as fire. In addition to this, the patent discusses guests calling upon a multicopter to “receive a cooling mist spray or bubble effect.” To do so, the guest would provide “an input to the handheld device or via the guest-wearable device” to instruct the device to “move toward the guest.”

This recently published patent provides a detailed look at the advanced technology theme parks are planning to incorporate to better immerse guests into an experience.

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