Meet ANDI: A robot that can breathe, sweat and walk

"You can’t put humans in dangerous extreme heat situations and test. But there are situations where people are dying of heat and we still don't fully understand what happened. ANDI can help us."
Amal Jos Chacko

A press release by Arizona State University (ASU) revealed employing ANDI, the world’s first indoor-outdoor breathing, sweating, and walking thermal manikin robot to study how our bodies respond to extreme heat.

Custom-built for ASU by the thermal measurement technology company Thermatrics, ANDI mimics the thermal functions of the human body and has 35 different surface areas, each equipped with temperature and heat flux sensors, and sweat pores.

“ANDI generates heat, shivers, walks and breathes,” said Konrad Rykaczewski, associate professor in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport, and Energy.

“There’s a lot of great work out there for extreme heat, but there’s also a lot missing. We’re trying to develop a very good understanding (of how heat impacts the human body) so we can quantitatively design things to address it.”

Hotter futures, stressed out humans

Thousands of people die in the U.S. from heat-related diseases every year, with Maricopa County alone accounting for 425 heat-related deaths in 2022, an increase of 25% compared to last year.

These figures are likely to rise even higher, with the country expected to experience more intense heat waves in the coming decades.

Meet ANDI: A robot that can breathe, sweat and walk
Researchers pair ANDI with MaRTy to work together and better understand human sweating mechanisms, like changing skin temperature and changing core temperature, and identify how specific environments may enhance heat risk.

Jenni Vanos, associate professor in the School of Sustainability, and Ariane Middel, assistant professor in the School of Arts, Media, and Engineering, are working together with Rykaczewski to analyze the effects of heat stress on the human body.

“You can’t put humans in dangerous extreme heat situations and test what would happen,” said Vanos. “But there are situations we know of in the Valley where people are dying of heat and we still don’t fully understand what happened. ANDI can help us figure that out.” Vanos specializes in research connecting extreme heat to human health, especially for people with an active life, such as children and athletes.

Simulating the world outside.

ASU developed a heat chamber capable of simulating heat-exposure scenarios from around the globe for ANDI to reside. These temperatures can go up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and solar radiation.

Internal cooling channels ensure that cool water circulates throughout ANDI’s body and keeps him cool against the extreme heat conditions simulated.

A variety of complex variables influencing our perception of heat, including solar radiation from the sun, infrared radiation from the ground, and convection from the surrounding air are then measured.

Researchers hope to understand human sweating mechanisms better by pairing ANDI with MaRTy, ASU’s biometeorological heat robot.

“MaRTy can tell us how the built environment modifies the amount of heat that hits the body, but MaRTy doesn't know what happens inside the body. MaRTy measures the environment, and then ANDI can tell us how the body can react,” said Middel.

“We can move different BMI models, different age and medical conditions (into ANDI),” said Ankit Joshi, an ASU research scientist and lead operator of ANDI.

The team believes that the data collected from ANDI and the insights thus gained will help design cooling clothes and exoskeletons for backpacks designed for cooling support.