It was supposed to be a social experiment exploring the milk of human kindness and testing the waters for human-robot interaction. But it seems none of that extends to Philadelphia.
After touring the Netherlands, Germany, and working it's way across Canada, HitchBOT survived only two weeks hitching across America before it was vandalised in Philly and its journey came to a premature halt. The senseless tragedy happened on 1 August.
HitchBOT was created by Dr. Frauke Zeller and Dr. David Harris Smith who are from Ontario and was kitted out with a face made from LED lights, a body wrapped in solar panels and the ability to speak English and French.
Rendered immobile he relied on strangers to pick him up and carry him cross-country. He was able to speak a destination and then the driver would do the rest. Kind drivers could plug him into their car lighter to charge him.
"I hope that my hitchhiking trip will allow me to meet many interesting people, see beautiful places, and learn more about humanity. I want to take my time and also meet a variety of people, so I hope those I meet will be generous and understanding." HitchBOT had said. "I think my trip will lead to conversations about how robots and humans can live in harmony, and I hope that humans and robots can learn to trust each other as a result of my journey." Oh dear.
This is the mutilated remains of HitchBOT after he was attacked.
This is why we can't have nice things. Such a nice little guy and such a horrible way to meet your end. I'm unclear if there are any laws for murdering a robot in the USA, but it there aren't then someone should enforce some.
So long HitchBOT, for now. Hopefully he'll be mended and be back traveling. But until then, here's some photos of his time on the road. RIP little guy.
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: http://goo.gl/rRTSW2
All my ducks have lined up in a row and I am having a great time in Boston. #hitchBOTinUSA
Lay down the red carpet! Tonight I will be the star of the show at my launch party #PEMPM. Bring your selfie sticks to the #peabodyessex at 6 pm in Salem, Massachusetts. My adventure starts tomorrow. https://goo.gl/xps5Fa #hitchBOTinUSA
Hold your horses, I have a big announcement. I am going to hitchhike across The United States of America! My American dream will begin in Boston on July 17. Help me reach San Francisco, I promise we can stop for pie along the way. http://goo.gl/DgYy4j #hitchBOTinUSA
Call me hitch van BOT, I’ve been invited to the Netherlands by Concordia Film | Theater | Expositie for an arts and culture vacation starting on June 6. Follow along here and on www.hitchbot.me, Facebook and Twitter!
Did you know that I will be on German telly? My friends at @galileo have invited me to share my journey with them once I arrive. || Ich bin bald im deutschen Fernsehen zu sehen: Meine Freunde von @galileo werden mich auf meiner Reise durch Deutschland begleiten. #hitchbot
The weather outside is snow joke. I hope Germany doesn't get a storm like this -- you won't be able to see me! Stay safe everyone. Verrücktes Wetter hier: Ich hoffe, in Deutschland schneit es nicht so heftig wie heute in Toronto, sonst kann man mich gar nicht sehen.
And btw, if you've seen that surveillance footage of the alleged vandal attacking HITCHbot, it turns out it was all a prank by YouTube personality Ed Bassmaster. Troll lvl: Expert.