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Vyommitra: ISRO’s Humanoid that India is Sending to Space

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The Indian Space Research Organization plans to send Vyommitra, a half-humanoid, to space that can talk and perform tasks like a human astronaut.

 
 
 
 
 
ISRO unveiled Vyommitra at a media event in Bengaluru, India, on 22nd January, 2020, Wednesday. Vyomitra is a female humanoid that India is sending to space as part of test flights which will be undertaken before the launch of India’s spaceflight mission, Gaganyaan.

 
The Vyommitra robot was programmed to introduce itself in the media event by saying, “I am the prototype of the a half-humanoid being made for the Gaganyaan mission. I can monitor biological parameters, alert you and perform life support operations. I can make all activities like switch panel operation, functions, and more. I can also be your companion, converse with the astronauts, recognize them and can also respond to their queries.”

 

Vyommitra: The Humanoid

Vyommitra is a Sanskrit word made from Vyom+Mitra where Vyoma means space and Mitra means friend. She has been names so because she will be sent to space later this year when ISRO will launch unmanned flights to space as part of the Gaganyaan project. Vyommitra is also referred to as half humanoid as she does not have legs.

 
Vyommitra

 
The humanoid has been developed by scientists at IISC in collaboration with ISRO and is programmed to mimic human behavior. Some of the capabilities of the humanoid are:

  • It can talk like humans. It has conversational skills just like humans which left everybody at the event in surprise.
  • It can recognize other humans. It greeted reporters with “Hi, I’m Vyommitra the first prototype of half-humanoid.”
  • It can mimic what an astronaut does in space. It can even hold conversations and answer queries.

 
According to ISRO chief R. Sivan, “The robot can also mimic human crew like switch-panel operations”.

 

Appearance and Movement

At the media event, the humanoid appears more like a human, in grey professional attire with logo of ISRO marked on her blazer. Introducing herself at the event, Vyommitra said, “I can be your companion and converse with the astronauts, recognize them and also respond to their queries.”

 
In words of ISRO’s scientist Sam Dayal “It’s called a half-humanoid because it doesn’t have legs. It can only bend side wards and forward. It will carry out certain experiments and will always remain in touch with the ISRO command centre”.

 

The Ambition

The Gaganyaan project, as announced by PM Narendra Modi during in his address in Independence Day of 2019, is an ambition to send Indians to space. ISRO has aimed to launch the manned spaceflight mission by year 2022. To test various systems in place two test flights are planned one in December this year and another in June 2021. These two unmanned missions will be followed by the final manned space mission. Vyommitra will be on board both the unmanned space missions where she is expected to mimic crew activities.

 
The purpose of sending Vyommitra to outer space is more for monitoring. This is to give ISRO scientists an understanding of what is wrong with the capsule that it is sent up in. Initially it would be sent for about seven days to know its reaction to the stresses of space travel, changes in atmosphere etc. It will also check if the capsule would be able to bring it back unharmed or not. This has not yet been made clear whether she will also accompany the three Indian astronauts during their historic flight to space in 2022 or not.

 

Is This the First Time?

This is not the first time any robot is going to space. This reminds of NASA’s Astrobee robots which flew on its own aboard the International Space Station. The Japanese humanoid robotKirobo, developed to entertain astronauts, was sent to space in 2014. There are lot of robots which have been sent to space.

 
Space flights are full of challenges for astronauts. Everything is vaccum in space. It is difficult to maintain pressure and create a life support system as good as what is on earth. This makes robots a good choice to travel to space. Irrespective of their shape and size, they can better handle the trouble of being away from earth’s atmosphere than human bodies.

2 Responses to “Vyommitra: ISRO’s Humanoid that India is Sending to Space”

  1. P. Bipin says:

    Intelligent robot are now playing an important role in space mission. Good to know.

  2. Krushna Shah says:

    India’s talking female robot. Wow!!

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