India is planning to send a humanoid robot astronaut into space, according to a number of media reports. (See video below.)
Called “Vyommitra”, the humanoid robot has been given a female form and does not have any legs. India Today reports that it can “recognise astronauts, converse with them and answer their questions”.
Sam Dyal, a scientist at the Indian Space Research Organisation, says Vyommitra is referred to as “half humanoid” because it only has an upper body and has limited movement – “it can only bend sidewards and forward”.
Dyal says: “It will carry out certain experiments and will always remain in touch with the Isro command centre.”
Isro plans to send Vyommitra into space later this year when it launches unmammed missions to space as part of the Gaganyaan project, which will eventually send human Indians into space.
Vyommitra is one of a number of humanoid robots being developed by space agencies around the world.
Nasa and the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, also have humanoid robots in development, and have already sent them to space on various missions.
It is commonly believed by scientists that robots are the only viable option for long space flights to distant planets and celestial bodies such as Mars and beyond.
However, space agencies are nonetheless planning human space missions and will probably continue to do so for the foreseeable future.