HitchBOT had a promising start. As a hitchhiking robot that travelled across Canada and Europe and caught the attention of many people, HitchBOT was on his way to success. But that all changed when he got vandalized, two weeks after he had passed the U.S. Border.
His journey started in Boston. The little guy wished he could cross the country from Marblehead, Massachusetts to San Francisco. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be and HitchBOT met a gruesome end. The researchers who built him said that they would put the experiment to rest after the incident occurred. They wrote the following on HitchBot’s site:
“Unfortunately, hitchBOT was vandalised 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?'”
The HitchBot was originally created in Ontario by Dr David Smith and Dr Frauke Zeller. It was a very “human” approach because the scientists’ goal was to create a friendly robot who would travel the world and meet people along the way.
It all began last year, on the 27th of July. HitchBOT “was born”, he hiked on 19 different paths since then and spent around 21 days exploring Canada. He was then sent to Germany in February 2015. He was immobile, so he had to rely on strangers for moving around. It’s safe to say that HitchBOT was a techno-social experiment that worked well up until not long ago.
During his lifetime he attended a wedding, had his portrait done in the Netherlands and he even went to a comic convention.
The scientists who created HitchBOT were sent an image of his vandalized body. However, they are not able to track him down since his battery is fully drained. Sadly, they do not know who vandalized the little guy, but they also have no intentions of pressing charges or find out exactly who did it. As mentioned above, they are trying to see where they can go from here.
HitchBOT is a rather interesting experiment that indirectly tests prosocial behavior. Luckily enough, the child-sized robot only met nice people up until now who made his journey a pleasant one and he had a lot to learn from it! It remains to be seen what scientists decide to do with his unfortunate demise.
Photo Credits ryerson.ca