Disney has created a Beachbot which uses Wi-Fi and a laser scanner to track its position and a retractable rake and sensors to draw lines. There’s something about the open ocean and the beach that makes people feel creative. Apart from sand castles and elaborate water pranks, many beach goers enjoy drawing in the sand, be it simple doodles, love statements or football pitch size intricate works of arts. To put human beach drawing to shame, Disney just unveiled a mechanical rake wielding robot, designed to look like a cute turtle that can automatically draw any planar shapes with ease.
Refer video (Credit: Disney)
If you thought elaborate sand castles were the only way one could express their artistic vision on the beach, Disney Research and ETH Zürich want to introduce you to their Beachbot. Slightly larger than a Roomba, the cartoonish robot turtle uses innovative soft balloon-like wheels so that it doesn’t leave a trail while rolling across a beach, but can deploy a built-in rake as needed to draw elaborate designs in the sand.
Beachbot can be controlled remotely allowing an operator to use it to draw directly on a beach, but it can also be programmed with a pre-loaded design or image. In that case, four white poles are placed in the sand to establish the size of the giant canvas, which the Beachbot then uses to keep track of its position—with a high degree of accuracy—as it autonomously reproduces a design.
Beachbot is only a prototype at this point, so it still needs a little assistance. You need to set boundaries for Beachbot using four provided poles; then its built-in Wi-Fi and laser scanner track its position and keep it within the lines. There are two rear wheels to get Beachbot going, while one front wheel is in charge of steering. Beachbot, which is 60 cm in length and 40 cm in both width and height, can create designs within a 10 x 10-meter square area. However, since its rake is retractable, Beachbot can create multiple lines, not just one continuous line. It can also create lines of varying thickness, from five centimeters to 40 centimeters in width.
Photo credit: Disney
If you look at the video and pictures, you’ll notice Beachbot doesn’t leave any tracks behind it. It was one of the main challenges for researchers at Disney Research Zurich. “Robot sand art is basically a path planning problem in robotics,” explains Paul Beardsley, a principal research scientist at Disney Research Zurich. “Based on the lines of a drawing, the robot computes a trajectory that most closely approximates them.
For big art pieces, the trajectory still has to be adjusted manually. But the group hopes to completely automate the process, so that you can give any picture to the robot and it will generate a line drawing and compute the corresponding path. The team says Beachbot can “in principle” scale up to kilometer-long drawings, adding that the ultimate dream is to create “huge amazing drawings like the Nazca lines
.” Future models might include patterned imprinters and an eraser to clear away previous drawings. And you won’t have to worry about getting sand in all those unwanted places. Beachbot is completely sealed with an aluminium shell and sealing lips. (Via. Roboticstrends)