Mira, tiny robot of joyful delight

The staff of Pi Towers are currently melting into puddles while making ‘Aaaawwwwwww’ noises as Mira, the adorable little Pi-controlled robot made by Pixar 3D artist Alonso Martinez, steals their hearts.

Introducing Mira

Honestly, I can’t type words – I am but a puddle! If I could type at all, I would only produce a stream of affectionate fragments. Imagine walking into a room full of kittens. What you would sound like is what I’d type.

No! I can do this. I’m a professional. I write for a living! I can…


Mira Alonso Martinez Raspberry Pi

Weebl & Bob meets South Park’s Ike Broflovski in an adorable 3D-printed bundle of ‘Aaawwwww’

Introducing Mira (I promise I can do this)

Right. I’ve had a nap and a drink. I’ve composed myself. I am up for this challenge. As long as I don’t look directly at her, I’ll be fine!

Here I go.

As one of the many über-talented 3D artists at Pixar, Alonso Martinez knows a thing or two about bringing adorable-looking characters to life on screen. However, his work left him wondering:

In movies you see really amazing things happening but you actually can’t interact with them – what would it be like if you could interact with characters?

So with the help of his friends Aaron Nathan and Vijay Sundaram, Alonso set out to bring the concept of animation to the physical world by building a “character” that reacts to her environment. His experiments with robotics started with Gertie, a ball-like robot reminiscent of his time spent animating bouncing balls when he was learning his trade. From there, he moved on to Mira.

Mira Alonso Martinez

Many, many of the views of this Tested YouTube video have come from me. So many.

Mira swivels to follow a person’s face, plays games such as peekaboo, shows surprise when you finger-shoot her, and giggles when you give her a kiss.

Mira’s inner workings

To get Mira to turn her head in three dimensions, Alonso took inspiration from the Microsoft Sidewinder Pro joystick he had as a kid. He purchased one on eBay, took it apart to understand how it works, and replicated its mechanism for Mira’s Raspberry Pi-powered innards.

Mira Alonso Martinez

Alonso used the smallest components he could find so that they would fit inside Mira’s tiny body.

Mira’s axis of 3D-printed parts moves via tiny Power HD DSM44 servos, while a camera and OpenCV handle face-tracking, and a single NeoPixel provides a range of colours to indicate her emotions. As for the blinking eyes? Two OLED screens boasting acrylic domes fit within the few millimeters between all the other moving parts.

More on Mira, including her history and how she works, can be found in this wonderful video released by Tested this week.

You can also sign up for Alonso’s newsletter here to stay up-to-date about this little robot. Hopefully one of these newsletters will explain how to buy or build your own Mira, as I for one am desperate to see her adorable little face on my desk every day for the rest of my life.


ALinuxLover avatar

It’s so cute! :D

dan3008 avatar

I was watching the tested video this morning, and wondered if I’d be able to make my own with a pizeroW

Freddi avatar

So simple a design but also so effective! Mira reminds me of those old school Japanese anime creatures. But I just love makes like this combining engineering and creativity. It would be great if they do release some more details because I really want to build one myself.

Tom Kirby-Green avatar

This needs to be a Kickstarter, my girls would love two of these.

Peter de Lange avatar

Would be an instant kickstarter success. I would order one or most likely more then one.

Andy W avatar

Absolutely yes. I would put down good money for a kit! (I’m already planning hacks involving neopixels to make it change colour based on external stimuli!)

Thierry avatar

Alonso shows so much joy!!!
Now, I’m going to turn mad just because I neeeeed to reproduce this :)
It’s amazing, so much talent !

ColinD avatar

The cuteness! Awwwwwww.

Ok, compose myself. Breathe in. Breathe out.

What I especially like is that because Mira doesn’t attempt to look human she (I can’t bring myself to say “it”) doesn’t enter the uncanny valley.

Mike Gregory avatar

This is so cute! I want one!

Paul Brady avatar

That’s amazing Alonso! Really inspiring!!! Thanks for sharing!

Hanna avatar

So those oled eyes would be perfect for my own project. Does anyone know where to get those?

John Christensen avatar

I’m not sure what he uses, but maybe this is a place to start. I was looking for myself as well.

DrFaulkner avatar

No news?I can’t wait to try reproduce one myself,I ve discovered it today and I’m going crazy!!

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