Paro is a therapeutic robot baby harp seal, intended to be very cute and to have a calming effect on and elicit emotional responses in patients of hospitals and nursing homes, similar to Animal-Assisted Therapy.
It was designed by Takanori Shibata of the Intelligent System Research Institute of Japan's AIST beginning in 1993. It was first exhibited to the public in late 2001, became a Best of COMDEX finalist in 2003, and handmade versions have been sold commercially since 2004. Paro is based on harp seals Shibata saw in Canada, where he also recorded their cries that Paro uses.
The robot has tactile sensors and responds to petting by moving its tail and opening and closing its eyes. It also responds to sounds and can learn a name. It can show emotions such as surprise, happiness and anger. It produces sounds similar to a real baby seal and (unlike a real baby seal) is active during the day and goes to sleep at night.
 In popular culture
In The Simpsons episode "Replaceable You", Bart Simpson and Martin Prince created robotic baby seals which they named "Robopets". These were essentially Paro robots which were designed to make the old people in Springfield Retirement Castle happier.
- Meet Paro, the therapeutic robot seal, CNN.com, 20 November 2003
- Robot baby seals to replace cats and dogs as pets in hospitals, nursing homes, The Canadian Press, January 11, 2009
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Paro (robot)|
- Official website (US)
- Official website (Japan) (English) (Japanese)
- Journalistic Project on Therapeutic Use of Paro in Germany