Arizona State University Researchers Develop Advanced Robot to Study Human Response to Extreme Heat
In response to the challenges posed by extreme heat and climate change, researchers at Arizona State University have developed Andi, or Advanced Newton Dynamic Instrument, a humanoid robot that simulates human responses to extreme heat exposure. This innovative robot is equipped with sensors that monitor heat diffusion through the body, an internal cooling system, and pores that allow it to breathe and sweat.
The researchers, led by mechanical engineering professor Konrad Rykaczewski, designed Andi to accurately measure how humans respond to extreme climate conditions without putting individuals at risk. The robot, which cost over half a million dollars to build, has 35 independent thermal zones and sweats more from its back, similar to humans.
The main objective of this research is to gain a better understanding of hyperthermia, a condition in which the body overheats, and its effects on individuals. Due to ethical considerations, it is not feasible to measure core temperature increases in people experiencing heatstroke. Andi provides researchers with a unique opportunity to study these effects and develop interventions to protect vulnerable populations.
Accompanied by MaRTy (Mean Radiant Temperature), a mobile weather station that measures the heat reflected by buildings, Andi is currently being tested outdoors in Phoenix. Phoenix serves as an ideal laboratory for studying the impacts of extreme heat and preparing for similar conditions in the future. The researchers aim to answer important questions such as how to adapt clothing and behavior to extreme temperatures and how the human body responds to hot winds and humid heat.
Besides studying hyperthermia, the research team plans to use Andi to simulate the thermoregulatory mechanisms specific to different segments of the population. For instance, older individuals sweat less than younger people, so their heat protection needs will differ. By creating digital twins of Andi, researchers can investigate the specific needs and responses of different groups.
The findings from this research will be crucial for designing heat-resistant clothing, reimagining urban planning, and better protecting vulnerable populations. The researchers envision that tailored solutions based on their findings could have a global impact, leading to the redesign of entire cities to withstand extreme heat conditions.
Mechanical engineering professor Rykaczewski emphasizes the importance of this research, stating that it can provide more effective safety measures than current generic recommendations for cities, states, and countries. Additionally, the research could inform the design of buildings in areas that are currently experiencing extreme heat, such as Phoenix, in anticipation of similar conditions in other parts of the world.
Overall, the development of Andi represents a significant step forward in understanding the impacts of extreme heat on the human body and developing strategies to mitigate its effects. This research has the potential to make a meaningful difference in protecting individuals from the threats posed by climate change.