ISRO hasn’t been lucky lately with its space missions. In fact, last year, the organization hoped that India would become the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the moon with its Chandrayaan-2 mission, but the mission ended up with a crash landing due to a braking error.
But ISRO doesn’t seem to be giving up. ISRO’s chief Kailasavadivoo Sivan confirmed that a third lunar mission i.e. Chandrayaan-3, had been given the green signal and is expected to launch soon, possibly this year itself.
But something interesting is going to happen this time. ISRO is planning to send a female humanoid robot named Vyommitra on an unmanned mission. These unmanned flights are part of the Gaganyaan Project, which will be sending Indian astronauts into the space.
Yesterday, i.e. 22nd January, ISRO unveiled Vyommitra’s prototype at a media event in Bengaluru. In that event, we came across the communication skills that this humanoid possesses. She said “I can be your companion and converse with the astronauts, recognize them and also respond to their queries,” and that too in an Indian Accent.
In that event, Vyommitra looked more like a conservative businesswoman in a gray suit than an astronaut. The point is, she wasn’t looking like a robot, instead a human but more like a mannequin that moves. It wasn’t a robot like the ones you’ve seen in movies like Blade Runner or Westworld.
As per the ISRO’s chief Sivan, this robot can mimic human crew like switch-panel operations.
Though, Vyommitra can chat with astronauts, she’s not programmed to be just like them or perform actions like them. In fact, the robot doesn’t even have a full human-like body.
ISRO scientist Sam Dayal said, “It’s called a half humanoid because it doesn’t have legs,”. “It can only bend sidewards and forward. It will carry out certain experiments and will always remain in touch with the ISRO command center.”
Vyommitra is scheduled for numerous unmanned missions that are planned for December 2020 and June 2021.
She isn’t the first robot who’s going to space. The legless robot Robonaut 2 was launched in 2011 to the ISS, and performed multiple experiments in a stationary position inside the craft. There’s also Kirobo, the Japanese humanoid robot developed to entertain astronauts and sent to the ISS in 2014.