Robinson was a member of England's coaching staff under Sir Clive Woodward during the successful 2003 World Cup campaign, and then he succeeded Woodward in the top job between 2004 and 2006.
He has also coached Bath and Edinburgh, leading Bath to the 1998 Heineken Cup final, when they beat Brive in Bordeaux to be crowned European champions.
"I am delighted to be joining Bristol Rugby at such an exciting time for the club," Robinson said. "I firmly believe that with the passion for rugby in the region and the vision of the owners, Bristol has the potential to be one of the most successful sides in England.
"I am looking forward to building a squad with a blend of experience and young, home-grown talent, to play an exciting and winning brand of rugby.
"Our immediate objective is to achieve promotion back to the Aviva Premiership as soon as possible."