robot made of paper and tape

Lula is an ambulating quadruped. Inspired by the gait of insects, Lula navigates using a set of IR sensors, adjusting her gait when encountering an obstacle. She was developed in 10 weeks, during the Informal Robotics course at Harvard Graduate School of Design. In keeping with the course ethos, we used paper and other commonly found materials to create our robot — enabling rapid prototyping at a low cost.

  • robotics
  • hardware
  • mechanics
  • Harvard GSD
a paper robot photographed in perspective


Inspired by origami, Lula’s movement in her hips and knees is created with parallel bar hinges and single folds. Her muscles are wires and elastic bands and her exoskeleton is made of laminated paper with pieces of acrylic. She walks with the help of a microcontroller and three servo motors.

IR sensor
close up of a limb and rubber band muscles
top side view of lula

Lula in action


We tried to get as close to an insect as possible – shrinking our designs to a diminutive 5.25” we gave our girl a little sister Yona.

Yona and Lula for scale


Before Lula there were 22 prototypes that didn’t make the cut. Other casualties included: 3 burned Arduinos, 5 broken servo motors, and 1 fried battery charger. The record number of limbs made in a day is 8.

custom electronics
lula limbs
the final prototype next to a mound of trash