Leave it to Disney to create something both cute and kitschy that everyone wants to have-but not necessarily something that anyone would ever need. Their newest venture named "BeachBot" is perhaps the cutest turtle robot you've ever seen, and he's likely the most artistic too.
In spite of other turtles whose names might imply artistic natures of the greats, designed in particular with sandscapes in mind, "BeachBot" is a fully autonomous turtle robot with the ability to draw giant sketches in the sand that would rival Donatello or even Michaelangelo. And thanks to the team from ETH Zurich that developed it in conjunction with Disney Research, you may just catch a glimpse of the robotic beach-dwelling Picasso very soon at a resort near you.
"The BeachBot is an autonomous robot that can create large scale sand art" spokespersons for BeachBot said in a recent press release. "The robot will be deployed at a public beach to amaze beachgoers who pass by. Not only the final picture is important, the whole drawing process will provide an exceptional, magical show."
By controlling the pressure applied by a rake attached to its body, BeachBot is able to leave its mark in the sand with precise, seamless imagery that is actually derived from some pretty clever programmers. With their greatest challenge being how to translate the data of a vector image into something the robot could understand and utilize in creating its sandscapes, developers with ETH Zurich and Disney Research developed a complex set of algorithms that transform a vector image into a trajectory map which BeachBot can follow.
"Smart software is used to transform images into sand art as well as to control the robot's movement to ensure a spectacular drawing process" spokespersons for BeachBot say. "To be able to draw precisely the BeachBot needs accurate localization. The concept consists of an laser scanner mounted on the robot plus reflective poles, marking the border of the drawing field."
But in spite of its autonomous nature, its mechanical precision and its inorganic drifting along the sand, it's BeachBot's image and turtle design that makes it an appealing attraction for any beach worldwide. And the possibilities for its applications are endless.
"To be visually appealing the industrial design students of ZHdK created an enchanting cover for the BeachBot in the shape of a turtle" spokesperson for BeachBot say. "But, the BeachBot is not just a lifeless, mechanical being; it is a friendly looking creature with a soul."