Robins, 42, left Barnsley at the end of the 2010-11 season having spent two years at the Championship club.
Prior to that he managed Rotherham for two seasons, winning 56 of 129 games in charge and almost leading the club to promotion in 2009.
Most recently, Robins had been working as a consultant to Premier League clubs regarding the Elite Player Performance Plan.
Robins said: “This is a great opportunity. Coventry is a club with great tradition and, although we find ourselves in League One, the squad that has been assembled is better than the results so far have shown.
“I am relishing the opportunity to turn things around and bring better times for the Sky Blues supporters.
“There is a lot to be done and I will get straight to work with the players and backroom staff.”
Caretakers Richard Shaw and Lee Carsley will once again take up the roles of assistant manager and first team coach respectively.