Vyommitra (a combination of two Sanskrit words, ‘Vyoma’ meaning space and ‘Mitra’ meaning friend) is the name given to the half-humanoid (in the form of a woman) which is being developed by ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation ) that will eventually fly to space on an gaganyaan mission. Vyommitra was scheduled to enter space early this year. However, the journey was postponed till 2024 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The plan was to create history by launching an Indian man into space in 2022, the 75th anniversary of independence. A humanoid is a robot that resembles a human being. Like any other robot, a humanoid’s functions are determined by the computer systems.
The functions of artificial intelligence systems such as Siri, Alexa, and Cortana are also extended to a humanoid. Vyommitra is being called a
half-humanoid because she only has a head, two hands, and a torso and doesn’t have lower limbs.
Why is ISRO developing a humanoid?
For the first time, ISRO plans to send a human into space by 2022. It’s racing against time to develop a crew module and rock systems that will ensure the safe travel and return of the Indian astronaut. The humanoid is under development at a robotics laboratory at
the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, a major space research center of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), located in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. Once flown into space, ISRO’s half-humanoid will be able to test systems in the crew module meant for
the survival and safe travel of the first Indian astronaut.
It can detect and give out warnings if environmental changes within the cabin get uncomfortable for astronauts and
change the air condition. It can autonomously complete tasks and follow new commands.
What are the tasks that Vyommitra will perform?
Vyommitra will test the ground for human spaceflight and it’s a very basic version of a TARS-type, artificial-intelligence-and-robotics system. Once fully developed, she is expected to use types of equipment onboard, such as safety mechanisms and switches, receive and act on commands sent from ground stations, attain launch and orbital postures, respond to the environment, generate warnings, replace carbon dioxide canisters, monitoring of the crew module, receiving voice commands, responding via speech (bilingual), operating switches, etc.
Vyommitra also has lip movement synchronized to mimic speech. It is programmed to speak Hindi and English and perform multiple tasks.
Apart from performing technical tasks, Vyommitra’s job also includes providing mental support to the astronauts. She can act as an artificial friend to the astronaut and provide tips on various aspects like the health of the spacecraft during the launch, landing, and orbital
phases. Ultimately, the humanoid would also return to Earth to report on the changes that shall occur in the crew module during return.
the spaceflight and Vyommitra created the sensation when she introduced herself to ISRO Chairman (former) K. Sivan and Principal Scientific Adviser K. VijayRaghavan at the symposium on human space flight. “I am Vyommitra,” the half-humanoid “I can do switch panel operations, ECLSS [environment control and life support systems] functions, be a companion, converse with the astronauts, recognize
them and also respond to their queries.”