Homemade and Open-Source Humanoid Robot Projects: Trends and Examples

Compared to my mother’s generation, it’s clear that we grow in an age of open-source projects, custom-fabricated components, and do-it-yourself product designs.

A few years ago, a joystick or a PC was the main tools to control a robot. In our days, these methods are considered obsolete. These methods were replaced with smartphones or a Kinect sensor.

To buy a humanoid robot ten years ago was a crazy thing due to the high prices. But the manufacturers work to cut the costs using commercially available parts and emerging technologies such as 3D printing.

All of these new technologies for control and manufacturing creates a completely new industry and increase the typical interests of the makers.

It is a strong connection between open-source and do-it-yourself human-like robots. You can have your humanoid robot in two ways. The simplest way is to use a humanoid robot kit while the hard way is to build the robot in your garage. For inspiration, you can use any of the open-source projects explored in this article.

Learning and trying to build new things is the key to developing new skills. Sometimes a homemade robot seems never be completed. The more you work on it, the more you can extend it or improve its features.


The spirit of thinking and building is everywhere in the DIY communities. This article gives a short overview of what happens when the makers work to build robots and add new designs for homemade robots and open-source platforms.

1. Humanoid Robots Based on Commercially Available Parts

With widely available components, any of the open-source and DIY projects are now explored by kids, researchers, hobbyists and more. All of them are now able to learn how to build a human-like robot and how to program it.

One of the best project based on commercially available parts is RoboPatriots. RoboPatriots is a good example of an intelligent robot based on commercial components and powerful enough to run Linux and Artificial Intelligence algorithms. But probably the best feature is the price.

2. Custom Hardware and Software

You can build your custom human-like robot. How? It is easier than ever using a 3D printer to build in different colors the arms, legs, chest and head.

Anyone can contribute to an idea related to the hardware or software of a robot. With many communities of hobbyists, all these knowledge can be spread all over the world. The result in an explosive innovation of new and improved open-source humanoid robots.

Rapiro is one of the humanoid robots designed with custom hardware and software. With countless possibilities for expansion, this robot can host a wide range of sensors, communication modules such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a vision system, and a powerful single board computer such as Raspberry Pi.

3. Gesture Control

A robot can be programmed to imitate the human movement. If you move an arm, the robot also moves its arm. If you grasp an apple from the table, the robot also imitates your movements and grasps an apple. Controlled with human gestures, a robot has a natural interaction while its arms, legs, or the head becomes our extensions.

Myo is a gadget designed to do wonders if you want to control a robot using only human gestures. The device is engineered to detect electrical impulses and can translate this information into commands for a robot.

The gadget can be used widely in industrial or social applications to make humanoid robots the extension of humans.

Myo Gesture Control Humanoid Robot

4. Control via Mobile Devices

The smartphones or tablets are two of the spread devices on Earth. Easy to use and with powerful capabilities, these gadgets become quickly an accessible device to control the robots.

It doesn’t matter if is called iPhone or Samsung, if it runs Android or iOS, you can use this powerful mobile device with gestures and applications able to detect these gestures.

DARwIn-Mini is one of the humanoid robots that can be controlled with a mobile device.

This small and wonderful anthropomorphic robot host the highest technology in the field and can be controlled via smartphone or voice commands. All of its features can be controlled by a touch of the screen, while the robot executes the movements according to smartphone commands.


More Examples

You don’t need to be an expert in robotics or to have full skills in electronics, mechanics or programming, and you don’t need your own laboratory to build a humanoid robot from scratch. The same things if you want to teach a robot doing some things. All you need to do is to follow and apply your skills on one of the projects explored below, or to use the same skills and start to experience new and different things on open-source human-like platforms.

Red-Dragon V3 is only a basic humanoid platform equipped with two legs. The anthropomorphic structure can walk and simulate the movements of an anthropomorphic structure. The Dragon is controlled by a PC application via Bluetooth technology. The same application can run on a mobile device if you want to use your smartphone or tablet to control the legs.

w00dBob is an Arduino robot designed with a body made of wood. This ecological material is fully customizable and can be replaced in case of damage. The body is large enough to host all the actuators, sensors, and the microcontroller board. Instead using wood to build the body and several other parts, you can use a 3D printer to replace the parts.

RQ-HUNO is a gift for hackers. RQ-HUNO is an affordable platform available as a kit and comes with complex features for an entry level robot. The servos, the sensors, and several other components are commercially available and can be replaced with more powerful versions.

The kit is controlled wirelessly via Android device with an Android application designed to control all the features of the robot.

Robot Cloning by DIY 3d printers!
This clone of DARwIn-OP shows us the power of open hardware and software platforms. Using different technology to build the body, you can use the same structure, servos, sensors, and software to build a cheap version but effectively the same robot as DARwIn-OP.

This 3D printed humanoid robot for under 1000.00 USD is another example for the same hobbyists that comes with another version of DARwIn-OP. This time the things are different. He demonstrates how to cut the costs by more than 90 percent and in the same time to keep almost all the features. Using components available in any electronic store and a 3D printer, the $1.000 human-like robot can become reality.

Poppy is not just an open-source platform designed to study biped locomotion and social interaction between robots and humans. This is the ultimate custom robot engineered for easy repair and duplication. All the hardware and software components are released under open source license. The servos, cameras, the LCD screen, all the sensors …all components are available in online stores. Built with modular design in mind, all the components can be replaced with new or improved components.

Revolution JD is a robot able to walk and interact with humans. The robot comes with a customizable body, heavy-duty servos, a lot of sensors, and open-source software.

Humanoid Teleoperation
The ROS 3D software exceeded all expectation with a humanoid teleoperation demonstration. Using a Kinect sensor and the ROS 3D, the robot can duplicate the movements of a human body. The library can run on several platforms and needed a 3D vision sensor to detect the movements.

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