The Disney Company is always doing research and sometimes the research is done in partnership with institutions and universities… worldwide!
That’s the case for the BeachBot, said to be the first sand drawing, autonomous robot. For this project, Disney partnered with ETH Zürich in Switzerland, a renowned engineering, science, technology and management university. The Zürich University of the Arts also played a role. The video below shows what BeachBot can do, and it is amazing. At the end, it even draws Nemo!
The challenge is way more difficult that we may think at first sight. To be able to create accurate drawings, the small, 60 cm (24 inches) long robot with 3 wheels must “know” where it is, so BeachBot uses top technology like laser ranging with reflective poles that give the limit of the canvas, and a software to pilot it (nobody is guiding the robot with a remote: it is completely autonomous).
Also, sand is one of the worst things for delicate electronics, so BeachBot is sealed to be protected.
So, what will Disney do with this? Nothing official for the moment. However, I imagine guests seeing Disney characters drawn early in the morning on the beach of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort for example, or at Castaway Cay… Who knows?
More on the official sit of BeachBot.