Hitchhiking robot runs into trouble in Philly In this July 17, 2015, file photo, a car drives by HitchBOT, a hitchhiking robot in Marblehead, Mass. The Canadian researchers who created hitchBOT as a social experiment say someone in Philadelphia damaged the robot beyond repair on Saturday, Aug. 1, ending its brief American tour. The robot was trying to travel cross-country after successfully hitchhiking across Canada last year and parts of Europe. (AP Photo)
Hitchhiking robot runs into trouble in Philly
Lexile

A hitchhiking robot that captured the hearts of fans worldwide has met its demise in the U.S.

The Canadian researchers who created hitchBOT as a social experiment told The Associated Press that someone in Philadelphia damaged the robot beyond repair. That ended its American tour Aug. 1 after about two weeks.

"Sadly, sadly it's come to an end," said Frauke Zeller, one of its co-creators.

The kid-size robot set out to travel cross-country after successfully hitchhiking across Canada in 26 days last year and parts of Europe. It's immobile on its own, relying on the kindness of strangers. Those who picked it up often passed it to other travelers. Sometimes they left it where others might notice it.

It started in Marblehead, Massachusetts, on July 17. Its thumb was raised skyward, with a grin on its digital face and tape wrapped around its cylindrical head that read "San Francisco or bust."

The robot bounced around the Boston area and was briefly taken to sea. One day, it took in a Red Sox game. But hitchBOT never made it off the East Coast.

The creators were sent an image of the vandalized robot but couldn't track its location. That's because the battery was dead. They said they don't know who destroyed it or why.

The robot was designed to be a talking travel companion. It could toss out factoids and carry on limited conversation. A GPS in the robot tracked its location and a camera randomly snapped photos about every 20 minutes to document its travels.

During past travels, the robot attended a comic convention and a wedding. And it had its portrait painted in the Netherlands. It once spent a week with a heavy metal band.

With the robot destroyed, Zeller said, she was most concerned about children who loved hitchBOT and followed it on social media. Her team doesn't plan to release the last photo of it to protect young fans who might be distraught.

"I hope that people won't be too disappointed, too sad," she said.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What did researchers learn from this "social experiment?"
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (41)
  • kolbyd-fel
    8/26/2015 - 02:20 p.m.

    They learned that not everybody cares for things that were worked on and loved by so many.

  • coled-fel
    8/26/2015 - 02:22 p.m.

    CTQ: Researchers learned that many people are willing to take the little robot wherever they go. And, some are not, it's all just a social experiment after all...

  • elizabetht-fel
    8/26/2015 - 02:24 p.m.

    Researchers learned from this experiment that some people will take a hitchhiker with them, while others will not. Some of the people whom did the experiment would put the robot where it would be noticed, and not ignored. Somebody destroyed it and it is now in ruin of its former capacity.

  • kyleighp-fel
    8/26/2015 - 02:26 p.m.

    Researchers learned from the hitchBOT social experiment that sometimes, people are cold-blooded and unusually cruel,but can be sweet and kind enough to pick up the bot and take him with them on their journey to wherever they may be going.

  • lances-fel
    8/26/2015 - 02:27 p.m.

    Researchers learned that people are brutal and some are nice.

  • travisb-fel
    8/26/2015 - 02:28 p.m.

    Researchers learned that most people will act kindly to a hitch hiking robot, but not everyone.

  • mattv-fel
    8/26/2015 - 02:29 p.m.

    All people can't be trusted, some are horrible people, willing to destroy whatever. They don't care about the consequences.

  • mattv-fel
    8/26/2015 - 02:29 p.m.

    The researchers learned that all people can't be trusted, some are horrible people, willing to destroy whatever. They don't care about the consequences.

  • mimir-fel
    8/26/2015 - 02:30 p.m.

    The researcher learned some people will be kind while others are not. This being shown through some people taking it cool places and others not caring, one going as far as to destroy it.

  • ethanw-fel
    8/26/2015 - 02:31 p.m.

    What researches learned is that people will not be kind and they will be inmature and go tear it all up, they also ruined a social experiment!

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