Sending humans to space can be a huge risk, even if everything has been meticulously planned out and tested. To avoid any potential disasters on its first crewed mission to space in 2021, the Indian government has decided to substitute human astronauts with a ultra-realistic, and somewhat creepy humanoid robot.
The robot, named Vyommitra, is a ‘female’ robot that has the ability to recognise human faces, answer a variety of questions, speaks two languages and is scheduled to take flight later this year and again in 2021 aboard the unmanned Gaganyaan spacecraft. The idea behind initially sending Vyommitra up to space was to help the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) better understand and test how space flight affects the human body.
While speaking to the media, ISRO chairman K Sivan said “It will be simulating exactly the human functions there [in space]. It will check whether the system is right. This will be very useful to simulate as if a human is flying.”
According to Vyommitra itself, it has the ability to monitor the spacecraft’s environmental and life support systems along with talking to astronauts in two different languages. Strangely, one thing it can’t do is walk around, as it was built with no legs.
In the run up to the first Human Space Mission by India at @isro … ‘Vyommitra’, the humanoid for #Gaganyaan unveiled. This prototype of humanoid will go as trial before Gaganyaan goes with Astronauts. #ISRO pic.twitter.com/pnzklgSfqu
— Dr Jitendra Singh (@DrJitendraSingh) January 22, 2020
While it may seem like a good idea to send a robot up to space instead of a manned crew, many have argued that simply having pre-programmed software to control the switches and monitor the spacecraft’s environmental and life support systems would accomplish the same as Vyommitra, for a fraction of the price.