Mural Bot

While her robot, Botsy, continues to outline the remaining pieces of a new mural on a once blank hallway in UF’s New Engineering Building, UF alumna Liza Kholodkova begins to paint.

Sketching a mural on a wall is a long and difficult process, but UF alumna Liza Kholodkova found a way to save both the effort and time: get a robot to do it.

Kholodkova’s invention, a robot named Botsy, can help muralists who want to make their artistic process easier. Depending on the size of the mural, a sketch could take an artist days or even weeks to complete, Kholodkova said.

Botsy can finish it in a couple of hours.

In 2015, Kholodkova graduated from UF with a dual degree in mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering and began a company called BeDrawn, which sells her invention to muralists looking to save time. While living in Gainesville and painting murals as a hobby, she noticed how difficult it was to initially map the murals out, leading her to create and build Botsy’s original prototype after graduating.

Last year, UF’s Integrated Product and Process Design, or IPPD, program in the College of Engineering commissioned Kholodkova and Botsy to create a mural in the department’s currently barren hallway. It will be the largest mural Kholodkova and her robot have created thus far.

In its largest form, Kholodkova said her small robot is normally able to produce mural sketches that are 8-by-6 feet. However, the piece for IPPD will be 30-by-6 feet, requiring Botsy to be used in four different blocks.

“They thought my project was cool,” Kholodkova said of the College of Engineering’s proposal. “When they called, I wanted to come up with something that captured the spirit of (IPPD).”

Once Kholodkova agreed to lend Botsy for the engineering building’s new hallway mural, she began a yearlong search to find the artist best suited to creating the design. By chance, while watching videos on YouTube, Kholodkova stumbled upon the channel “Kurzgesagt,” which translates to “In A Nutshell” in German.

Kholodkova said she instantly fell in love with the channel’s artwork style and emailed them asking if they would design the mural. Much to her joy, they responded and said yes.

“They took some kind of scientific concept and tried to explain it in simple terms,” she said. “When I emailed them, they actually replied.”

According to IPPD director Keith Stanfill, the College of Engineering wanted to fill the blank hallway wall leading up to their department.

“It looks like it leads to a morgue,” Stanfill said. “I wanted something memorable to make the hall more interesting, and I want it to showcase the combination of technology and art.”

Stanfill said he was inspired by Kholodkova’s commitment to the project, which he considers a nontraditional path for engineering students to take due to its artistic focus.

On Tuesday, Botsy began outlining IPPD’s future mural. Kholodkova, along with a group of volunteers, plan to spend the rest of the week filling it in with paint.

Stanfill said the mural, a collection of images of people and technology, reflects the mission and purpose of his program.

“It captures the spirit of what we do,” he said.


Adam Turner is an Alligator Staff reporter.