Romibo by Origami Robotics-Quality of Life Technology Center - Carnegie Mellon University

Romibo by Origami Robotics

The DIY robot for therapy, education and fun.

Romibo is a pet-like, do-it-yourself robot kit that provides a low-cost, open-source, youth-accessible STEM build experience.  The toy robot features social aspects that are especially effective in provoking emotional response, making the robot an ideal candidate for therapy applications.

Romibo features a simple, flat-pack, modular design that makes it easy to transport the robot anywhere. The robot uses standard Arduino components and is Android, iPad, Mac, and PC compatible. All the necessary files and instructions for building a Romibo can be downloaded from the Romibo website, including mechanical part files, electronic schematics, and sample code.

Romibo can be controlled autonomously or via remote control.  The robot's therapeutic capabilities
 are driven by programmable behaviors and affective personality. A range of behaviors can be installed via the kit's standard USB drive; Romibo responds to touch, sound or presence. Additional capabilities include attention orientation and rhythm/gesture control. Users can customize their robot's appearance for a range of tactile experiences.

Robotics researchers and ordinary users collaborate together to create the Romibo user community both offline, in local build workshops and events, and online through social networking resources.
 Built Romibo prototypes will be donated for use by clinicians and parents for supervised robot therapy and research.

Core Benefits:

  • Inspires STEM learning and creativity
  • Facilitates therapeutic emotional and social responses
  • Reduces cost of social robot therapy
  • Builds interactive social communities (online and off)

Targeted User Populations:

  • STEM educators
  • People with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
  • Patients and therapists addressing other disabilities
  • Makers, tinkerers and robot enthusiasts

“Although robot therapy has been shown to be beneficial to children and other individuals with a wide range of social, emotional, and developmental disorders, the benefits of robot therapy are not yet widely available to the general public because existing prototype robots are too expensive. As a low-cost, grassroots-driven alternative, Romibo can create social engagement, promote emotional response and motivate positive behavior change, especially in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders or ASD."


– Aubrey Shick, Carnegie Mellon University

About the Research:

Initial investigations under the Romibo project have identified design needs for Romibo's social robot therapy aspects.   Findings indicate that solutions should provide scalable and structured scaffolding for developmental progress throughout robot therapy interactions. Real world concerns include: (1) dealing with stimuli; (2) being able to interact; (3) being able to be social; (4) being productive in society.

Current work is underway to kickstart Romibo's educational build workshops so that together we can co-develop a therapeutic robot for children with physical and developmental disabilities.  As robot kits are made available to interested builders, the growing user community will help support robot therapy research while providing tandem value to the general public. 

Future work aims to evolve an online library of community-developed behaviors and design iterations, as well as  a forum where clinicians, parents and builders can work together and learn from each other to advance social robot therapy. 

Learn More:

qolt trl 8

romibo's flat pack diy design
Flat pack frame and components

Romibo robot kit cartoons

example of romibo's customizable skins
Example of customizable robot skins

Fast Facts

  • Top Finalist - 2011 RoboBowl
  • Formerly known as MEmote
  • First kits available early 2012
  • "Bot Loan Plan" for universities


Aubrey Shick,
CEO and Founder - Origami Robotics
(p): 412-268-4950

Garth Zeglin,
CTO - Origami Robotics

Kristen Sabol,
QoLT Communications and Media
(p): 412-303-7396