Hackaday Prize: An Autonomous Beach Art Robot

Some people find it hard to look at a huge, flat expanse of floor or ground and not see a canvas. From the outfield grass of a baseball park to some poor farmer’s wheat field, trampling, trimming or painting patterns can present an irresistible temptation. But the larger the canvas the more challenging the composition will be, which is where this autonomous beach-combing art robot comes into play.

Very much still a work in progress, [pablo.odysseus]’ beach bot was built to take advantage of the kilometers-wide beaches left by the receding tides near his home. That immense canvas is begging to be groomed, and this bot is built for the task. The running gear itself is simple – an extruded aluminum chassis powered by wheelchair drives with added optical encoders and dragging a retractable rake  – but the bot is bristling with electronics dedicated to navigation.  A pair of Arduinos run the dual odometers, compass, and a GNSS receiver, as well as providing a smartphone interface for on-the-fly changes. The art is composed as a DXF file converted to latitude and longitude points and exported to Google Earth as a KML. That means the bot can just be brought to the beach and allowed to draw autonomously. An early test run is seen below the break; better “brushes” are in the works.

Watching the art unfold on a beach would be relaxing, like watching a zen garden being created. We’re looking forward to [pablo]’s progress on this one. Of course, art bots aren’t the only autonomous machines that big, wide beaches attract.

26 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize: An Autonomous Beach Art Robot

    1. a suivre, means to follow and there are 4 videos in the sequence. 3 of them seem to be just as boring as this one. The fourth shows the app used to control the robot.

      I long shot of the finished “work of art” would have been more rewarding.

      Good thing you can jump ahead easily on YouTube videos.

  1. Warning, that video was about 5 and a half minutes longer than it needed to be, unless you want the hypnotic “watch the art unfold” experience without getting to see the finished art.

    Cool idea though, I would love to build one for the beaches we have round here.

  2. What a fun and wonderful project. Imagine the face of the first person walking towards the beach at a very early hour and then seeing the image(s) drawn in the sand by this machine.

    Sometimes art is intended to make a statement or to make you think about what the artist experienced when he/she made it. Or it requires you to really use your imagination in order to figure out what the artist meant (you could also read the sign sometimes). But with art projects like this, it is not too difficult to figure out what the artist meant, a nice image on a huge canvas where the image itself isn’t really important, it’s about the canvas (i think). Therefor the only thing that’s left wondering about, is how it was done, what motors were used what algorithms what was the processing before the image was uploaded, is everything possible, etc. And how would I do it if I was to make such drawing machine myself. Would I use sand or perhaps chalk or only water (then the image is even more volatile). Ahhh… this project is inspiring, tickling the creative mind.

    Thanks for posting this project.

    1. Not exactly Mario. Did you talk to the designers of this product? I did it. It is not the same principle at all, it is not the same budget. Do you understand that I do not have the capacity of the University of Zurich and the funding of Dysney? I also do not want to copy a project. Not interesting to do.

      1. Ulysse, sorry, I didn’t mean to say that your project should be like that of Disney/ETH! It was just the first thing that came into my mind and I was waiting to see the result of the sand art in your video.
        You are right that they have another budget and a very high technical level and you don’t have to compare to them. Keep on working on your robot and please keep us updated, I guess I’m not the only one who is curious how this evolves :)
        I guess most readers (including me) would not even come as far as you did.

  3. For Pete’s sake – I watched the whole video and it never showed a shot of what it was drawing. This thing could have been wandering around at random for all we know. Time out of my lifespan I will never get back.

  4. The work is in progress.
    Luckily, I did not read your comments at the beginning of the project, I would have given up. Are you really talking about “sake”, mister rob ?

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