Sand Art Robot Rakes Giant Beach Sketches

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San Francisco artist Andres Amador makes monumental designs on the beach with naught but a rake and some wet sand. He’s mindblowingly good at sand art—but he’s got competition. A small, orange Disney robot is hot on his heels.

BeachBot is about the size of a sea turtle. It trundles over the sand just after high tide dragging a rake behind it, and using a laser and WiFi to locate itself on a “canvas” marked by reflective poles, draws pictures and designs in the sand.

The little bot has a few special features.

Its rake has independent prongs that can be lifted individually by servos to change the thickness of lines (between 5 cm and 40 cm). Its large wheels are designed to avoid tracking up its creations. Anyone who’s been to the beach knows sand gets in anything and everything. The bot’s aluminum shell is sealed to ensure as little sand as possible gets inside.

While BeachBot’s capabilities are already cool, it could fairly easily increase the scale and complexity of its sketches.

If it can be drawn up in digital design software, it can be transferred to the beach. The bot currently works on 100 square meter plots. “But in principle we can scale up to kilometer long drawings that extend all along a beach,” Disney’s Paul Beardsley told IEEE Spectrum. “The dream is to create huge amazing drawings like the Nazca Lines.”

Image Credit: BeachBot

Jason Dorrier

Jason is managing editor of Singularity Hub. He cut his teeth doing research and writing about finance and economics before moving on to science, technology, and the future. He is curious about pretty much everything, and sad he'll only ever know a tiny fraction of it all.

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