I don't think Jim Denevan need lose any sleep over possible competition, but this is fun!
From New Scientist:
No, it's not alien art. A robotic beach artist has created giant drawings in the sand. Developed by Paul Beardsley from Disney Research Zurich and his colleagues at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, the wheeled robot can recreate a drawing sent to it from a phone or tablet.
It computes a path across the sand that approximates the artwork and sets off. A rake attached to its rear etches the pattern in the sand. Each drawing takes about 10 minutes, and the idea is that the robot could be controlled remotely, turning the beach into a digitally controlled sketchbook.
Since the robot moves on three wheels, it is better at creating smooth curves rather than sharp corners. To carve a right angle in the sand, it draws a line then lifts the rake, before using a laser scanner and an inertial sensor to reposition itself so it can trace the intersecting line.
The team plans to equip the robot with a range of tools so that it can imprint a variety of textures or erase previous markings, and is also taking inspiration from the Nazca Lines – ancient motifs produced in the Nazca desert in Peru. "We would like to make huge sand art that amazes people," says Beardsley.
The robot was presented at Techfest in Bombay, India, in late December.