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.

Filed Under:  
Assigned 43 times
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What did researchers learn from this "social experiment?"
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (41)
  • garretta-fel
    8/26/2015 - 02:31 p.m.

    CTC: Researchers learned that the U.S. cannot have anything nice,because somebody in Philly got fed up with this innocent robot for some reason and decided to destroy it.

  • calaabj-fel
    8/26/2015 - 02:32 p.m.

    Researches learned from this "social experiment" peoples random acts of kindness and what they wold do for a child sitting on the side of the road or a grown person and how the people would help anybody.





















  • ethanb-1-fel
    8/26/2015 - 02:32 p.m.

    Reseachers learn from this social experiment to show how people react to the hitch hiking robot

  • johnj-fel
    8/26/2015 - 02:34 p.m.

    Researchers learned from this social experiment that most people will allow the robot to travel with them but a select few would not. Including one man that completely destroyed the hitchBOT.

  • hollyk-fel
    8/26/2015 - 02:34 p.m.

    Researchers learned from the "social experiment" is that millions of people will like what you create but there is always someone who wants to destroy it.

  • hannaha-fel
    8/26/2015 - 02:36 p.m.

    The researchers learned that a lot of people enjoyed the hitchBOT and that by it's destroying, a lot of people will be upset.

  • audreya-fel
    8/26/2015 - 02:36 p.m.

    What Researchers learned from this social experiment is that relying on the kindness of strangers it was seen that it worked.

  • courtneyh-1-fel
    8/26/2015 - 02:38 p.m.

    Researchers learned from this social experiment who would be nice and pick up the robot and if it could finish the trip it stared.

  • callans-fel
    8/26/2015 - 02:38 p.m.

    Researchers learned that the robot stayed in the West Coast area. They also learned that people would vandalise the robot and destroy it.

  • audreya-fel
    8/26/2015 - 02:39 p.m.

    What researchers learned from this social experiment was that relying on strangers it would most likely have made a complete trip if it hadn't been vandalized.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT