Josh Lownsohn in www.theverge.com 10 Jan 2015
We’ve built robots to wash our dishes, vacuum our floors, and even to replace members of our family, so it should come as no surprise there’s now a robot that draws a perfect recreation of Disney’s Nemo — or anything else — on sand. This is the Beachbot, the result of a collaboration between Disney Research and Swiss Engineering school ETH Zurich. It’s been specifically designed to drag a tiny rake in the sand while maneuvering around beaches like a canvas, drawing computer-aided designs of Disney characters, or whatever else is loaded into its telemetry. You can also take it over by remote control and draw with reckless abandon.
The robot keeps itself from veering into a watery death by tracking its distance by laser to four poles that are stuck into the sand. And in order to keep from leaving footsteps like a clumsy human, the Beachbot uses what Disney refers to as balloon wheels, which look a lot like giant polyurethane skateboard wheels. Tucked just behind those is the rake system, which can be adjusted to create lines as thin as 5cm.
Before getting too excited about purchasing a Beachbot to impress dates or entertain your children, there’s no mention of this getting a commercial release anytime soon.