June 25, 2019
Disney has filed a patent described as “an autonomous painting system for painting a target surface of a structure”, which involves a mechanical arm that would wield a can of spray paint.
According to the patent, it would need very little ground control guidance from the operator:
“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.”
These drones would be useful for the company, which operates major theme parks, for more than simply cost savings. Drones would allow for exact re-creations every time a repair is needed, in a way that “conventional painting” does not.
It will be interesting to see whether this idea sees the light of day, as it has the potential to significantly impact infrastructure maintenance.
Authors: Sarah Stothart and Yonca Umur