Co-developed by Disney Research and a student team at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Beachbot is an autonomous robot with a rather special talent; it can draw massive pictures in sand.

That's just about it really, but the end results can be spectacular. And the little robot itself looks like it's come straight out of a Disney family film.

The Beachbot's wheels are effectively balloons, which don't leave much in the way of track marks in the sand. A rake on the rear is then lifted and lowered as the robot makes its way around a 10 x 10m "canvas" (marked by four corner poles) to leave more distinct impressions on the surface. These can then be seen as large pieces of art from a lofted position.

The rake can also be lowered in sections to create thinner or thicker lines, thus giving an artist controller more freedom for design.

Artwork can be preprogrammed into the Beachbot or the device can be manually controlled to turn the sand into a live sketchpad.

The team wants to move up in scale to create enormous artworks in the future, while there's no word on what might become of the current wee Beachbot. What's the betting on a starring role in Art Attack on the Disney Channel some time soon?

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