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Meet Vyommitra, the robot ISRO is sending to space

Vyommitra will go to space before astronauts are sent out as part of Gaganyaan, India's maiden human spaceflight mission.

The robot has been named Vyommitra combining two Sanskrit words — Vyoma (Space) and Mitra (Friend).

A ‘half-humanoid’ developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will be the first to be sent to space in Gaganyaan, India’s maiden human spaceflight mission, before the selected astronauts.

Named Vyommitra, the robot was unveiled at the inaugural session of a symposium organised by the ISRO, International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) and Astronautical Society of India (ASI) on the human spaceflight programme in Bengaluru Wednesday.

Introducing herself, Vyommitra addressed media persons at the venue, saying, “Hello everyone. I am Vyommitra, the prototype of the half-humanoid, been made for the first unmanned Gaganyaan mission. The robot added, “I can monitor pre-module parameters, alert you and perform life-support operations.”

ISRO chairman K Sivan said the half-humanoid would simulate human functions while in space. “Apart from checking whether the system is right, this will be very useful in simulation, similar to how a human astronaut will be,” he said.
Sivan, during the inaugural function of the three-day symposium titled ‘Human Spaceflight and Exploration: Present Challenges and Future Trends’ also said that ISRO will undertake two unmanned missions — in December 2020 and June 2021 — ahead of India’s first manned space mission Gaganyaan in December 2021.

 

The developers of the robot however clarified that a better version of Vyommitra which is now being developed will be sent to space in December 2020. Express Photo/ Ralph Alex Arakal

Speaking to indianexpress.com, an ISRO scientist explained that the primary objective of the robot is to mimic crew activity. “She can also operate switches, and do other activities like replacing carbon-dioxide canisters in case of emergency. Her ability to have seamless interactions with astronauts and ground operations with the help of voice command is another major highlight of this half-humanoid,” the scientist said.

The team of scientists further added that they are envisaging better features, including developing the robot to take part in life-support operations in events causing danger to astronauts’ lives in future missions.

The robot has been named Vyommitra combining two Sanskrit words — Vyoma (Space) and Mitra (Friend).

When asked why Vyommitra is called a half-humanoid, another scientist said, “As of now, we have not envisaged mobility with legs for the robot, which makes her a half-humanoid.”

 

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