Can a robot turn a beach into a work of art? (+video)

Switzerland's ETH Zurich teamed up with Disney Research to make art in the sand.   

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    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.
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Your favorite beach may be getting a vanity boost this summer.

Disney Research and ETH Zurich have developed a robot that can draw preloaded images into sand. The “Beachbot” looks like a giant turtle that has a rake attached to its tail and the rake can be raised or lowered digitally to match the contour of the design it is making.

The creators at ETH wanted to create a robot that could create large-scale art but make the creation process something fun for beach-goers to enjoy watching.

"The Beachbot is not just a lifeless, mechanical being; it is a friendly looking creature with a soul," the project developers wrote on the ETH website.

It is not yet clear if Beachbots will be available for commercial purchases, but the creators vision was to feature them on public beaches. The Beachbot was unveiled last December in Miami and was also showcased at the annual Techfest in Mumbai last week.

The two-foot-long Beachbot boasts an onboard computer that is enclosed in the turtle's aluminum shell. The shell has sealed lips in order to protect the robot from sand. Programmers can either remotely control the Beachbot to free draw or they can load an image into the robot for it to draw.

The programmers place a series of poles in a certain area to make the "canvas" and the robot will use its laser sensor to calibrate itself to the defined space with near pinpoint accuracy, according to an article on Then, Beachbot can scale the image to best fit in this space. Two wheels under the shell power the robot and one wheel in front allows it to steer.

There is no word on what beaches the Beachbots will be drawing on first but Disney resorts would be a good guess, according to a story from Popular Science.

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