India is planning on sending a “female” humanoid robot called Vyommitra into space as part of an unmanned mission which could launch this year.
Kailasavadivoo Sivan, the chief of the nation’s space agency, the India Space Research Organisation, described the robot as a “half-humanoid” as it doesn’t have any legs.
Vyommmitra is “a woman”, the head of the agency added, and will speak two languages to communicate with mission control – and possibly in the future with astronauts.
The prototype of Vyommitra was unveiled by the space agency on Wednesday.
At a media event in Bengaluru, the robot appeared to show off its dexterity, although it isn’t clear why the use of a physical robot to flip a switch would be more useful than software to automate the task.
Mr Sivan suggested to the Times of India that the mission was about inspiring Indians as well as simply establishing the nation’s presence in space.
Vyommmitra is the latest signal of India’s ambitious intentions in outer space following the failed mission to get a lunar lander on the surface of the moon.
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The Indian Space Research Organisation lost touch with the Vikram lander as it approached the moon’s south pole earlier this month, and it was not clear whether it had crashed or landed.
The Chandrayaan-2 mission, which has cost roughly $140m (£114m), was intended to study the permanently shadowed moon craters for signs of water, which were first confirmed by the Chandrayaan-1 mission more than 11 years ago.
NASA eventually located the debris from the lost lunar lander’s hard crash on the lunar surface, with help from an amateur astronomer.
NASA then conducted additional scans of the area with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter before officially announcing that the remains of Vikram had been identified, almost two months after it crashed.
SOURCE : https://news.sky.com/story/meet-vyommitra-the-female-robot-india-wants-to-send-into-space-11915558