Joey Castillo's "Emotional Support Robot" Packs in a Lot of Personality Per Square Inch

Powered by a Feather-format Espressif ESP32-S3, this personality-packed companion bot has a CircuitPython soul.

Joey Castillo, of Oddly Specific Objects fame, has shown off a work-in-progress "emotional support robot" — which, he hopes, will help demonstrate robotics concepts in lectures in the near future.

"It's still very much a work in progress honestly," Castillo told us of the surprisingly emotive machine, which boasts a small-format display as its "face" running a simple two-dots-and-a-line animation. "Currently it's an [Espressif] ESP32-S3 Feather and a servo motor FeatherWing, running one standard servo to turn side to side, and a couple of micro servos on a tilt/pan head to let it nod and cock its head to the side."

Joey Castillo's "emotional support robot" packs a powerful personality, even before it gets a planned thermal camera upgrade. (📹: Joey Castillo)

The parts list may be simple, but some clever coding gives the machine more personality than you might expect. "This whole vibe or random motions," Castillo explains, "sometimes blinking, sometimes tilting, always a bit stochastic, was very much inspired by Jorvon Moss's talk at last year's Hackaday Supercon."

That talk, available on YouTube, was on the topic of giving a machine a personality — and Castillo's unnamed CircuitPython-powered robot certainly shows that. "I'm hoping to finish it up with a thermal camera to sense people nearby," Castillo tells us, "and use it as a demonstration in a class I'm lecturing for next semester."

Castillo has posted about the project on his Mastodon account.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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