Botkins Charity Project

Robots for #MECFS & #LongCovid patients, to virtually visit friends and family. #BotkinsCharity

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Botkins Charity Project pursues making simple hobbyist robots accessible to people with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or LongCovid who are homebound or bedridden. Volunteer tinkerers/laypeople build the low-tech robots on a small budget, Botkins connects tinkerers to patients and covers the costs. The robots can be used to virtually visit friends and family or participate in outings that can improve the quality of life for chronically ill people, and are controlled via a smartphone or PC.

Patients typically do not have the strength to build such DIY telepresence robots themselves. Botkins Charity Project tries to create an access to robots, but relies on donations and volunteers. Material costs per robot are around 400€, assembly costs around 50€, the robots are given to chronic patients with or without cost sharing (about 50%). 

The association does not pursue commercial purposes and does not strive for profit. Botkins would like to thank the non-profit project Vigibot, whose open-source instructions ( ), documentation ( ), 3D files, modified partlist ( ) and software Botkins uses. 

Besides helping the mentioned patients, another purpose of the project is to make the general public aware of the situation of people suffering from Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS). Botkins receives valuable help and information from the Swiss Society for ME and CFS (Schweizerische Gesellschaft für ME und CFS, ), as well as assistance in selecting suitable patients. 

Donation details: 

IBAN: CH81 8080 8009 8363 5484 4  (No transaction fees) 

Recipient: Botkins Charity Project, 3752 Wimmis, CH - Switzerland, SWIFT-BIC: RAIFCH22 


Twint / RaiseNow: (Anonymous donations only. For cost share payments please use another payment method.) 

Contact details: 

Send us a direct message (DM) on any social media platform @BotkinsCharity

To reach our goal, Botkins needs help, and is looking for: 

• Donations of any amount to pay for materials and compensate tinkerers: see donation details. 

• Hobbyists who are willing to build robots. 1) (Botkins pays the Materials) Volunteer labour or for a fixed fee: send us your contact details, country and whether you have access to a 3D printer. 2) You want to pay for the material yourself, build a robot and donate the finished robot to a chronically ill person: contact us. 

• Homebound or bedridden patients interested in a robot: Fill out the form on

• Workshop leaders: we don't yet know how workshops will work. 

• You think Botkins is a great cause: Tell people about Botkins or create a post on social media and tag @BotkinsCharity . You can also share video clips from the robots owned by "firened": see test drive.

See a robot in action in a swiss national TV "SRF Reporter" segment about ME/CFS (English subtitles available) from the 30. of March 2022 starting at timeindex 17:40.

Test drive a robot, quick driving instructions: 

Interested people can try Vigibot's internet-control themselves to see if their smartphone or PC can handle the control software or just for fun. 

"Firened | CakeOnIce" and "Firened | Pancake" are usually online during the day (GMT+1) on , on mobile drag the center dot ⦿ like a joystick, on the PC use W A S D to drive, Q E for sideways (pancake), shift for full speed. Switch between camera and gripper with the "skip/previous" buttons. Drag the viewscreen to move the camera / gripper and click the stop ■ button to reset camera orientation. 

Use a Chrome-based browser such as Chrome, Opera or Edge. The software is very challenging for smartphones, if it has red bars, something's not working. If driving doesn't work due to missing permissions, ask in the Vigibot Chat or Vigibot Discord for permissions. The driving behavior is similar to remote controlled model vehicles or RC cars, but with additional real-time video transmission (FPV). 

Hardware: Inside is a Raspberry Pi 3, 3B+ or 4B SBC, connected to the internet through the...

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playing with a relative's cat

MPEG-4 Video - 9.70 MB - 06/30/2022 at 12:29


JPEG Image - 512.58 kB - 06/30/2022 at 12:28



Minus-type Vigibot

JPEG Image - 4.60 MB - 06/30/2022 at 12:26


  • In Action

    Dejan02/22/2024 at 12:29 0 comments

    The Botkins Charity Project was founded by D. Lauber, who is bedridden with severe M.E. He built robots to see the world and to use them as a surrogate to visit his family. And so it began.  

    The Botkins Charity Project is all about providing bedridden patients who suffer from M.E. or Long Covid with a tool to take part in social life again. Something that these patients dearly miss.  

    Botkins is thankful towards @vigibot, whose design plans and software Botkins can use. These DIY robots function as an extension of the patients themselves, enabling them to visit family and friends and to attend birthdays, holidays, weddings and other gatherings.   

    Not only can patients attend such occasions passively, but also actively interact in real-time if they have the strength to do so.   

    The possibilities the Botkins open up can have a significant positive impact in regards to quality of life for the severely ill and physically disabled patients.   

    This is empowerment put into practice.  

    This is our vision and our mission. We would love to see that vision grow. Are you in?  

    We need reinforcement for our Makers-Team. Also, since we are a donation-based charity, we welcome every financial contribution, however big or small 🤍   

    Find out how you can support us here:  (link in bio)  We are looking for volunteers as Social Media Editors, Communicators, for fundraising and PR as well as for administrative tasks.  Get in touch:   

    Last but not least - visibility is key. This is where each and every one of you can make a huge difference: like, share, subscribe, comment 🤍    Let's make this happen!  

    Love, The Botkins Charity Team    #millionsmissing #botkinscharity #vigibot #StopRestPace #DIY #robotics #raspberrypi #disability #empowerment #pov #fyp #MEcfs #MyalgicEncephalomyelitis

  • Magazine swiss muscle association

    Dejan01/05/2024 at 15:32 0 comments

    The Swiss Muscle Society has published an article on myalgic encephalomyelitis, in the magazine "info" "04.2023". Thanks also to for featuring Botkins Charity Project and Dejan Lauber. The Article is in German only. 

    Read more »

  • Lucky sent!

    Dejan02/02/2023 at 14:15 0 comments

    Robot No.1 «Lucky», the first robot financed by donations has been sent to a patient in Germany! 🥳🥳

  • Website Launch

    Dejan12/24/2022 at 12:52 0 comments

    The holidays are upon us and we are also celebrating the launch of our website! 

    Botkins Charity Project wishes everyone good luck for the coming year and hopes you enjoy the newly launched website, created entirely by volunteers.

    Share it widely in your circles, because not everyone knows about our association yet and we still want to grow a lot!

    Here's to a happy new year! Kind regards, your Botkins Charity Project

  • Robot No. 1 testing

    Dejan10/26/2022 at 12:53 0 comments

    Robot No. 1 called «Lucky», absolving final testing.

    Botkins Charity Project makes small robots accessible for #MECFS & #LongCovid patients.

  • Robot No. 8

    Dejan10/16/2022 at 12:58 0 comments

    Thanks to your donations, Botkins is taking care of a total of 8 robots in various stages of realization! 🥳  Materials for No. 3, 4, 5 is on the way. Currently setting up an order for No. 6, 7, 8.

  • Suitable Suitcase

    Dejan10/13/2022 at 12:10 0 comments

    Fitting little suitcase for the little «WalterJakob» Robot :)

  • Safari Park

    Dejan10/11/2022 at 14:08 0 comments

    Robot in the Safari Park in Pombia, Italy.

  • Lakeside

    Dejan10/10/2022 at 12:47 0 comments

    Robot in Italy at the Lago Maggiore and after a few lengths in the pool (just kidding - it's not waterproof! 😅)

  • Car transport railway

    Dejan10/10/2022 at 11:10 0 comments

    Picture of a robot on the car transport railway through the alps in Switzerland.

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natevplas wrote 09/02/2021 at 14:51 point

This is such a cool idea!  Have you considered adding a telescoping arm or something that could bring the camera up higher off the ground?  With the current wheels it would probably have to be stationary when it's extended, but could provide a more human perspective for the viewer.  There's also the option of making it a 2-wheeled balancing robot, which might be able to stay stable with a tall pole holding up the camera.

  Are you sure? yes | no

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