Canadian Hitchhiking Robot Meets Untimely End In Philly With Severed Head And Limbs

The hitchhiking robot hitchBOT has traversed multiple countries by relying on the generosity of strangers, but its adventuring came to an abrupt and disastrous conclusion shortly after it arrived in the U.S. The place of hitchBOT’s demise turned out to be Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, which apparently doesn’t extend its goodwill to robots. HitchBOT caught more than a ride and ended up headless on the street.

hitchBOT hitching a ride

HitchBOT, which started as a project at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, was capable of speaking, though it had a limited vocabulary. The funky-looking robot featured a bucket body, yellow Wellingtons, and a special stand that made it easy to prop it up on the roadside so it could hitch another ride. HitchBOT had built-in GPS that helped the researchers keep an eye on its travels, but it apparently carried no other surveillance gear, which meant that its safety was entirely in the hands of strangers who could harm it without much fear of being caught.

Among the questions asked by the project, according to hitchBOT’s creators, was whether robots can trust humans. The answer appeared to be “Yes,” in Canada, Germany and the Netherlands. And things were looking good in the United States at the outset: New York City treated hitchBOT admirably, as did Boston and several other cities on the East Coast. Then the robot reached Philadelphia and its two-week trip was cut short by unknown assailants.

hitchBOT map usa

HitchBOT’s family posted a message on its site shortly after the robot’s wrecked body was discovered. “HitchBOT’s trip came to an end last night in Philadelphia after having spent a little over two weeks hitchhiking and visiting sites in Boston, Salem, Gloucester, Marblehead, and New York City,” the family wrote in the post. “Unfortunately, hitchBOT was vandalized overnight in Philadelphia; sometimes bad things happen to good robots.”

The family, which consists of the researchers and others associated with the project, told hitchBOT fans that it doesn’t plan to press charges against the unknown perpetrators. “We wish to remember the good times, and we encourage hitchBOT’s friends and fans to do the same,” it wrote.
Tags:  robots, hitchbot