Patrizia Marti

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The Project

Robot Therapy


Paro is a baby harp seal robot designed by Prof. Shibata at AIST (Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) Tsukuba, Japan. Paro is a high-tech robot in the shape of a newly born seal, covered in soft fur and capable of the movements and sounds typical of very young pups. Its soft white fur hides a complex network of sensors that allows it to react to environmental stimuli.

Paro responds to pats and other external stimuli by moving its body and head in a coordinated way, fluttering its eyelids, making sounds, and purring if cuddled (sen­sors on its belly are activated when the seal is kept in a vertical position or touches the human body). But if it is hit or stroked in a way it dislikes, it reacts with “irrita­tion” and stops interacting. Paro is therefore capable of showing a fairly complex type of behaviour.

The robot has been introduced in Italy and tested in different therapeutic contexts like hospitals, rehabilitation institutions, home cares, primary schools. Ethnographic studies and experiments have been conducted to design and test the use of the robot as a non pharmacological treatment for subjects with relational disturbances.


University of Siena

AIST, Tsukuba, Japan

Functional Rehabilitation Unit, Le Scotte Hospital, Siena

Casa Protetta Albesani, Castel S.Giovanni, Piacenza