THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Across the globe, a sci-fi dream is being played out with humanoids Sophia and Pepper catching the imagination of millions. So, can Thiruvananthapuram be left behind?
In all likelihood, the state capital's first humanoid will start hobnobbing with visitors at the Kerala State Science and Technology Museum (KSSTM) this year itself. KSSTM officials have kicked off the process for procuring the 'specimen' for its hugely-popular robotics corner. ''We have placed inquiries with a number of firms. We will also formally place a proposal this month. The Robotics Corner already has small bioloids which come much cheaper than a humanoid robot. But robotics technology is witnessing great advances,'' KSSTM director Arul Jerald Prakash said.
Sophia, an advanced humanoid model, was conferred citizenship by Saudi Arabia this year, a decision that has gone a long way in gaining publicity for robotics at that advanced a level. (by the way, Sophia has even displayed an interest in scaling Mt Everest which would make it - her? - the first humanoid to do so.) Of course, KSSTM is not looking at humanoid models that are as sophisticated or swanky as Sophia, the first humanoid robot to gain citizenship of a country. The cost would prove too prohibitive.
The KSSTM humanoid would be about three feet tall. ''Basic humanoid models are available at prices ranging from Rs 15 lakh to Rs 25 lakh. They can greet you at KSSTM, hold a basic conversation and provide visitors with chocolates,'' Arul Jerald Prakash said. Countries like Japan, US and Korea have made great advances in building humanoid robots, he said.
In recent years, Thiruvananthapuram also has been hosting robotics events which see spirited competition. KSSTM, which also houses a popular planetarium, itself had thrown open its robotics corner to awe-struck young visitors in 2012, with two midget bioloids as the prime draws. Bioloids are small educational robots and come at around Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh apiece.