Edited story published in Pakistan Observer on 8 Oct. 2010
Islamabad - In this modern technological age when human beings have become machines and can spend little time with their aging elders or ailing children, a friendly mechanical robot named PARO has emerged to fill gap of emotional attachments and psychological therapy.
PARO – which stands for Partner Robot has been developed by Japanese scientist, Dr. Takanori Shibata and was introduced in Islamabad’s National University of Science and Technology (NUST) on Thursday.
Dr. Takanori Shibata, Senior Research Scientist, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology Japan delivered a lecture titled as “Science Lecture on Robot-Life Innovation with Therapeutic Robot: Paro” and explained the work and ability of friendly-looking little Paro which can cure elderly people as well as sick children in hospitals and home.
A large number of teachers and students took keen interest in the hour-long presentation by Dr. Takanori, the inventor of the friendly curative robot which can heal people.
Talking to Pakistan Observer reporter, Dr. Takanori Shibata expressed his surprise over deep interest by Pakistani students and young scientists on PARO and their probing questions about the curative robot.
He hoped that Paro will be welcomed by the Pakistani people, especially in the nursing homes
Japanese Ambassador Chihiro Atsumi, in his introductory speech, said that “It has become important for the new generation to keep track of the latest inventions and technologies to help build a better future.”
Paro is the finest illustration that science relieves people not only physically but mentally, he added.Paro, looking like a seal has tactile, visual, auditory and postural sensors, as well as seven actuators beneath its soft artificial, anti-biotic fur. In addition, Paro reacts and behaves according to communication with the person who is playing with it.
Japanese experts have been engaged in developing robots that provide psychological, physiological, and social effects to human beings through physical interaction. Paro was developed as a therapeutic robot and can be used as a companion at home and at hospitals, elderly institutions and schools.
Dr. Takanori Shibata and Paro have received many awards including the “Robot of the Year” by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan in 2006, the outstanding young person of the world award by Junior Chamber International in 2004, and the Japanese Prime Minister’s Award in 2003.