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Large-Area Controlled Electrostatic Levitation of Lightweight Show Objects
Inventor: Lanny S Smoot
Assignee: Disney Enterprises
Patent No: 8915790
Date of Patent: 23 December 2014
Here’s a cool but possibly crazy idea from the Disney Imagineering engineers: electrostatically levitating and remotely controlling objects with a body adapted for receiving a static charge.
The invention addresses the ability to include ephemeral floating characters or objects in live shows at theme parks or other entertainment settings, that can move in a controlled manner near a main character and interact in real time.
The system includes an array of at least three electrostatic generators, each including an exposed element that becomes statically charged during operation of the array. The system also includes a controller operating to generate control signals to the array, to independently operate each of the electrostatic generators to provide the static charge at first, second, and third voltages. When positioned in a flight space above the array, an object is levitated by electrostatic lifting forces.
Each of the electrostatic generators is a high voltage Van de Graaff generator. The first, second, and third voltages are in the range of 0 to 300,000V, varied over time to direct the levitated object along a flight path by the controller.
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