Disney’s BeachBot Draws on the Sand

Olivier S. (NDD#263) (27 Posts)

Born in France (and still living there) I discovered WDW in the mid 1970's when I was 10 during a trip to Florida with my parents. Since then, I am a Disney fan, but also a WDW fan with EPCOT as the prefered park. The Contemporary is my "mythic" hotel even if I never stayed there: it´s because of its futurist look. By the way, I also encountered space exploration during the same trip by visiting KSC. And I am today working as the chief editor of a space news website for a scientific park in France. Guess you can see the importance of this Florida trip and the others after...


Disney's BeachBot drawing an animal. Maybe the Lion King? ;)

Disney’s BeachBot drawing an animal. Maybe the Lion King? 😉

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.