The scorching summer heatwaves across the globe have led to record-breaking temperatures in various regions, emphasizing the urgency of climate change mitigation. While efforts to combat climate change hold promise, we must also adapt to the current extreme heat conditions. In this endeavor, a revolutionary robot named ANDI is stepping forward to assist us, particularly in understanding how our bodies respond to extreme heat and finding ways to live more comfortably and safely in hot climates.

ANDI, akin to department store mannequins, possesses an extraordinary ability to walk, breathe, and even sweat. Developed by Thermetrics and initially used by clothing companies to test athletic wear, researchers at Arizona State University (ASU) are now leveraging ANDI’s capabilities to investigate human body responses to extreme heat. Since it is unsafe to subject humans to dangerous heat situations for research purposes, ANDI serves as an invaluable tool in understanding heat-related health issues and potential remedies.

The robot’s body is divided into 35 different surface areas, each equipped with temperature sensors and pores that emit sweat. The “sweat” originates from internal cooling channels, allowing water to circulate within the body and regulate its temperature effectively. To mimic different individuals’ responses to extreme heat, researchers can calibrate ANDI’s settings based on factors like BMI, age, and medical conditions. Additionally, they can simulate various activities like walking to assess its internal temperature fluctuations.

ANDI collaborates with its sidekick, MaRTy, which collects data on the surrounding environment, including heat from the sun, infrared radiation from the ground, and convection from the air. This joint effort enables researchers to comprehensively understand both the impact of heat on the body and the external factors influencing it.

Originally tested in an indoor heat chamber reaching temperatures of up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, ANDI is now undergoing outdoor tests, accompanied by MaRTy. Researchers aim to explore heat-vulnerable environments, such as treeless paved streets or old homes without air conditioning.

While conventional guidelines for extreme heat involve staying indoors in air-conditioned spaces, reducing physical activity, and staying hydrated, the research team hopes to discover additional insights. By gaining a quantitative understanding of how heat affects the human body, they aim to design innovative solutions like cooling materials for clothing or wearable accessories with built-in cooling mechanisms.

The recent prolonged heatwaves in the Phoenix area and predictions of record global temperatures by the World Meteorological Association underscore the urgency of finding effective solutions. In this pursuit, ANDI’s research endeavors offer hope for a future where humans not only survive but thrive in hot climates. As the project progresses, the team remains dedicated to addressing the challenges posed by extreme heat and ensuring a more sustainable and adaptive future.

By Impact Lab