We have come across a plethora of jaw-dropping science fiction with always a hope that the virtuality comprising of human-like robots shall come into existence even in our nation, though globally it has shown a positive response with automation and artificial intelligence sector booming in India it’s still a fragile idea. However, we have the Indian Space Research Organisation fulfilling the hopes of all by introducing a female humanoid robot named Vyommitra.
The word ‘Vyom’ means space while ‘Mitra’ means friend, as the name suggests it is a space flaring robot developed for India’s first manned space mission in December 2021. The robot speaks English as well as Hindi.
ISRO decided to send a robot in the space to know more about weightlessness and radiation which the humans may space during India’s first upcoming manned mission in 2022. There have been similar developments of humanoids and robots for studies such as Ripley which is tested on the Dragon crew capsule. Earlier countries have used animals for their studies too.
The humanoid uses artificial intelligence for performing functions such as walking, talking, etc. It will be equipped with procedures to use the equipment onboard such as the safety modules and help control a plethora of switches, it will receive and act on the instructions sent from the ground. She will also perform objectives like attaining launch and orbital postures, generate warming, monitoring crew modules, receiving voice commands, etc. Vyommitra will be back with details on radiation levels and other technical lapses that may endanger the lives of the astronauts.
The development of vyommitra is a part of the gaganyaan mission which will be the first human space flight program initiated by ISRO. The rocket GSLV Mk III used for the purpose is of Indian origin and the launch will take place in India too. The name of the 3.7-tonne space vehicle which is fully autonomous, designed to carry 3 members is gaganyaan and hence the mission has been named after it. The pad abort test for the mission was conducted successfully on July 5, 2018
The total expenditure incurred by ISRO in the mission is estimated to be around 8000 crores. However, the exact figure is not revealed.
This initiative of ISRO sought to bring a major change in space research by using the accuracy and efficiency of the robots and off course the intellect and determination what our scientists and astronauts have portrayed in the best possible way.
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Check out this video to find more about Vyommitra by The Economic Times
Other missions and ISRO
Certainly, ours was not the first nation to come with the idea of humanoids and develop space flaring robots but we do have a promising venture into it. This subtopic would compare, contrast and discuss more such space flaring robots around the globe launched by a plethora of organizations.
Russian Soyuz spacecraft launched in august 2019 carries Russia’s Skybot F-850, a high tech space robot launched to work at the International space station for 2 weeks and brought back on 7 September 2019. The robot stands in contrast to vyommitra which has been designed just to gain knowledge about survival in the space. Future generations of such robots shall be capable of solving high-risk jobs for humans in the space.
Another mission that entails a saga of triumph is NASA’s Robonaut 2, which was designed to work alongside astronauts, flew to the ISS in 2011 but had to be brought back in 2018 due to malfunctioning. NASA, has also launched astrolabes which are small cube shaped robots designed mainly to perform the routine work for the astronauts in the space . This is again a very contrasting project from our indigenous one, as it is not part of any experiment but promises to offload a bunch of responsibilities from the shoulders of the astronauts . Also, these projects have been completed with accuracy a long time before we could manage to complete vyommitra . Hence, these missions motivate our scientists and the Government to spend more on space related technology and types of equipment.
Chandrayaan-2 was another complex mission undertaken to gain deeper knowledge about the moon. It comprised of an orbiter, lander-vikram and a rover- pragyaan. The mission focused on reaching and collecting facts about the southern part of the Moon, where none other organization had reached was not completely successful as the lander crashed causing the rover to get lost. These technological lapses can be eliminated by using more of artificial intelligence technology, something we find in the project Vyommitra. Thus, the planning of unmanned missions using technology before that of the manned ones can be seen as a strategically sound move on the part of ISRO, enabling them to avoid any loopholes in the mission. Till date there has been around twenty fatalities in manned missions, most of them due to technological failures of which some of them may have been avoided with better tests and giving more time . Hence, sending of a humanoids like Vyommitra to space is unarguably a right decision as in all these fatal cases, no initiative like this had been undertaken because technology was not advanced .