The hitchBOT Hitchhiking Robot Gets Vandalized in Philadelphia
Philadelphia may be known as the “City of Brotherly Love,” but one robot passing through Philly isn’t feeling quite so warm and fuzzy. The hitchBOT, a hitchhiking robot hailing from Ontario, Canada, was attempting to thumb-it across the United States from Salem, Massachusetts to San Francisco, California, when it was vandalized in Philadelphia on August 1, after spending just two weeks on the road. The hitchBOT’s creators released the following online statement after the incident, and journalist Lauren O’Neil later tweeted a photo of the ill-fated hitchBOT: “Oh dear, my body was damaged, but I live on back home and with all my friends. I guess sometimes bad things happen to good robots! My trip must come to an end for now, but my love for humans will never fade. Thank you to all my friends.” RELATED: Watch These Four Tiny Robots Pick Up and Move a Car
The note went on to assure fans that the hitchBOT experiment would not end here, but for now, the project’s creators will focus on what can be learned from the vandalized robot.
Admittedly, testing whether a robot can hitchhike its way across the United States, or any country for that matter, sounds like a risky proposition, however it’s certainly not an impossible endeavor. hitchBOT trekked across Canada over the course of 26 days in the summer of 2014, visited cities in Germany during February 2015, and toured The Netherlands in June 2015. All without incident.
The early days of the U.S. journey had proven positive as well. In the last two weeks, hitchBOT knocked a few items off its bucket list, including a stop in New York City and a night out at a Red Sox game in Boston. However, the robot wouldn't make it out of the Northeast this time around.
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The hitchBOT experiment asks a unique question of the human race, “can robots trust humans?” It’s a fascinating contradiction to common fears, echoed in films like The Terminator, that foreshadow future robot aggression. But based on the latest leg of the hitchBOT journey–humans aren’t quite there yet.
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