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