This summer, one small robot should have had a big adventure.
It’s my sad duty to report that the United States adventures of hitchBOT, the Canadian hitchhiking robot, have come to an untimely end, two weeks after setting off for a final destination of San Francisco, California.
While hitchBOT had travelled across Canada and Europe coming to no harm, the hitching automaton was found vandalized and destroyed beyond repair in Philadelphia this month.
Canadian journalist Lauren O’Neil tweeted this photo below of the broken robot’s vestiges. Decapitated and with limbs removed, the remains are a reminder that hitchBOT’s sight-seeing expeditions were an experiment to see how people would react and interact with a traveling robot in society.
— Lauren O'Neil (@laurenonizzle) August 2, 2015
“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,” wrote David Smith from McMaster University and Frauke Zeller from Ryerson University on the hitchBOT website. “Unfortunately, hitchBOT was vandalized overnight in Philadelphia; sometimes bad things happen to good robots. We know that many of hitchBOT’s fans will be disappointed, but we want them to be assured that this great experiment is not over.”
“For now we will focus on the question “what can be learned from this?” and explore future adventures for robots and humans.”
On the kindness and helpfulness of strangers, hitchBOT traveled over 10,000 kilometers (6,213 miles) through Canada and spent 10 days traveling through Germany earlier this year. This map (below) shows how far hitchBot made it in his voyage across the United States.
From Massachuserts to Philadelphia. hitchBOT.
hitchBOT is survived by a large family of researchers, friends and supporters.
— hitchBOT (@hitchBOT) August 1, 2015
[H/T: BBC News]