Between old Paro the robo seal and the original iteration of Keepon, we've seen plenty of adorable robots designed for therapeutic purposes. Romibo's creators have no qualms admitting that their own creation is following in those cuddly footsteps, but what sets their furry 'bot apart from much of the competition is a focus on (relative) affordability. For starters, there's the fact that Romibo is being offered up as an open-source project online, letting do-it-yourselfers build their own versions and contribute custom designs.
The company's also hoping families will get into the act, making sure that Romibo is "able to be assembled by a neurotypical child 10+ and a parent" -- and then there are the plans to offer up workshops to let folks build robots to be donated to special needs facilities. Once built, Romibo can drive around, blink its eyes, speak and move its antennae. Crack it open and you'll find WiFi, bluetooth, light sensors, an IR Proximity sensor, accelerometers and a big 'ole Arduino Mega. There's a certain amount of autonomous functionality (watch in the video below as Romibo's handler warns about it driving off the edge of the table), or you can control the robot via an iPad app. You can also use an SD card to help teach it some new words.
Romibo robot eyes-on
The company is currently taking early orders for a costly $700 a pop at the source link below -- an admittedly high price tag it plans to use to invest in manufacturing costs. Those models will start shipping before January. DIYers can also fill out a form to get a hold of plans to build their own Romibo.