When you’re a huge, multi-billion dollar conglomerate like the Walt Disney Company, you can afford to create an army of robots to do your bidding — even if your bidding involves painting Simba into the sand.
Going beyond the ranks of the Disney theme parks’ animatronic Pirates of the Caribbean and It’s a Small World child-doll monstrosities is the BeachBot, a 2-foot-long, 15-inch wide robot that can automatically fill a 30-square-foot area of sand with drawings in under 10 minutes. Powered by seven servo motors and equipped with configurable rakes and balloon wheels that leave zero tracks, the BeachBot was born in the lab of Paul Beardsley, a principal research scientist at Disney Research Zürich.
On Disney’s relationship with robotics, Beardsley tells Wired
“Disney has had a fundamental role in the development of two forms of entertainment—full length animated movies and theme parks. No-one can predict exactly what might arise as new forms of entertainment in the future. But it’s certain that society is just at the start of a robot revolution, and my work is in developing new types of entertainment robots.”
Not only will the robot’s work be entertaining for guests, it’ll also be a good form of advertising for those flying above Disney’s parks. “The dream is to create huge amazing drawings like the Nazca Lines,” Beardsley tells Engadget
No word yet on when the BeachBot will make its public debut, but when it does, it’s sure to be a hit with customers at Disney’s Aulani resort in Hawaii.
A “SnowBot” is also in the works, as Beardsley told Wired, “We are working on different modules for the BeachBot to take it off beaches and into other situations. Snowy fields are a possibility, pretty good for Switzerland at least.”