What if, instead of astronauts, humanoid robots were sent on space missions? This is the goal of Gitai, a Japanese startup that wants to test your idea and change teams on trips like this.
According to the company, the risks and costs of using people in these projects do not offset the challenge, which could easily be overcome with the use of semi-autonomous equipment controlled from the ground – allowing savings of up to 90% on projects. The only issue that prevents the immediate implementation of the concept concerns the functionality of the machines.
Also according to Gitai, these robots would conduct research while being operated by flesh-and-blood scientists – not without, of course, a small command delay. Naoko Yamazaki, Japanese astronaut, says: “There is a need that can be met by this type of initiative. We should be able to perform certain tasks remotely or leave devices in complete control of the situation ”.
A demonstration of this type of action was carried out by the company itself last year. The robot, despite being able to perform some tasks, ended up stumbling several times, which did not diminish the company’s optimism regarding the astronomical technological future.
Not so human after all
Keeping an astronaut in orbit is not for everyone. About 430 million dollars are disbursed each year when it comes to ensuring the safety of these adventurers. In order to reduce costs, several companies develop a series of technologies – and the space robotic market is expected to reach $ 4.4 billion by 2023. Combining solutions and making them fully functional with dedicated software is what these companies expect.
Do not think that these professionals fear losing their jobs. Anousheh Ansari, the first Muslim woman to reach space, believes that such tools can significantly help advance missions. When considering human and robotic capabilities, it is emphatic: “We can have the best of both worlds”.
Want to know how much each type of equipment would cost? From $ 300,000 to $ 500,000. The reduction in values is driven by the fact that robots do not necessarily need to look like humans. For example, in zero gravity, legs would not be needed. “Focusing on the production of humanoids can move us away from our goals,” explains Masahiko Inami, professor of engineering and human improvement at the University of Tokyo.
Expectations are high. “We are going to see an era in which humans will actually work in space, not just go to it,” says Sho Nakanose, Gitai’s chief executive. “We want our robots to lay the groundwork for Blue Origin and SpaceX.”