WATCH: Disney beach robot that can draw pictures in the sand

Gadgets, Robots

Could Nemo soon be appearing on beaches worldwide? Or what about giant crop-circle style patterns? Check out this video from Disney, which has built a robot that if it were the 90s, would put Art Attack’s Neil Buchanan out of a job.

Here’s the creators explaining how it all works:

Conceived by Disney Research and working in partnership with a student team at ETH Zürich, the Beachbot is a mobile robot that can turn an ordinary beach into an artist’s canvas. Thanks to innovative balloon wheels, the robot is able to traverse sandy beaches without leaving any noticeable tracks.

Drawing is achieved using a controllable rake at the rear of the robot, with individually controllable pins that can be raised and lowered to create thick or thin lines in the sand. The drawing area on the beach is defined simply using four vertical poles that define the corners of the desired sand canvas. The Beachbot can then determine its position on the canvas to a high degree of accuracy using depth sensing and IMU (inertial measurement unit) technology.

Artwork can be pre-programmed as the robot can draw lines or create block-filled areas. Alternately manual remote can be used to turn a beach into a live sketchpad. Beachbot is just one of Disney Research’s projects in the area of mobile robotics, including work on path-planning, robot choreography, localization, and human-robot interaction.

James O’Malley
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