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Future Tech: 

Disney’s BeachBot is the robot turtle which loves to draw


Having first dipped their toe in animated waters with Little Mermaid and Finding Nemo, Disney’s latest seaside adventure takes place in the real world. From the company’s Zurich-based research studio comes BeachBot, a robotic turtle that can sketch complex designs into the sand without human assistance.

The secret to BeachBot’s artistic talent is in the wheels, made from a soft balloon-like material which allows it to drive around in the sand without leaving a trace. The robo-turtle then uses a rake that’s tucked into its base to dig into the sand, retracting it if and when required.

Another challenge facing Disney Research was creating an algorithm which translates the data from the designs into instructions for BeachBot to follow. Although the robot can be controlled remotely, it can also be left alone to sketch in the sand – you’ll just need to place some poles out first to mark the canvas.

The BeachBot measures in at 60cm by 30cm – making it not much bigger than a Roomba – and comes with an onboard laser scanner and WiFi to help it navigate.

While admittedly very good at sand sketches, Disney’s robot doesn’t seem to be capable of an awful else. It’s not the only robot competing for beach space either, joining Crabster, a giant 6-legged robo-crab designed to patrol the ocean floor, and this robotic octopus which was also built to observe nature – and presumably battle the Crabster during any downtime.

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