Art & Tech Collide: UF Grad Invents Drawing Robot
Art and technology are most often seen as opposing forces.
One represents heart, creativity and inspiration and the other efficiency, consistency and innovation.
However, UF grad Liza Kholodkova has managed to fuse the two with Botsy Dedrawn.
Botsy is a drawing robot.
Liza created Botsy after graduating from UF in June of 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering. She decided to start her own company instead of working for someone.
Botsy can draw any vector file: .ai, .dxi, .svg, .esp and some .pdf. The robot has a micro-controller, which takes the image file and commands stepper motors to draw the exact replica at a scale of the user’s desire. People can draw logos, favorite sports team signs, cartoons, art, complicated and repetitive patterns, Egyptian themed designs, architecture, cut-outs to make costumes, technical drawings or furniture templates using Botsy.
Botsy draws with any marker, pencil or chalk. The robot’s drawing area is 6ft x 8ft, and the drawings can take a few hours depending on the complexity of the design.
Liza said she has been an artist all of her life and decided to combine two of her passions: art and engineering.
“During high school and university, I painted murals for people,” Liza said. “ I love transforming a blank boring wall into personal and custom work of art that told the story of the place and the people who lived or worked there.”
The problem with painting murals is that the outlines take a really long time to draw. Botsy was born out of a need to speed up the outline process.
Liza worked out of Gainesville Hackerspace, a membership tech shop in town. Liza headed to Home Depot and bought roller skates, wood, metal and a long threaded rod. What she couldn’t find, she 3D printed. She built the first version of Botsy in only three days.
The goal was to create the most basic model that would do something. She learned how to program Botsy to draw and the result of the three-day hacking was a small robot that could draw poorly shaped squares.
In the next three months, she made a prototype that could draw any complicated image. At the end of five months, she had a model that she could sell and manufacture reliably and quickly.
As for the chasm between tech and art? Well, Botsy isn’t advanced enough to form an opinion on the subject, but it’s blurring the line one robotic mural at a time.