Hitchhiking robot relying on kindness meets grisly end in US

Photo Source New York Post

A social experiment relying on the kindness of strangers has come to screeching halt in the “City of Brotherly Love.”

An immobile robot aptly named hitchBOT was created by Canadian researchers and was attempting to travel from Marblehead, Mass., to San Francisco — the goal being that fellow travelers pick hitchBOT up and drop it off where others will notice.

After successfully crossing Canada in 26 days and parts of Europe in this manner, hitchBOT began its journey in the United States on July 17 “with its thumb raised skyward, a grin on its digital face and tape wrapped around its cylindrical head that read ‘San Francisco or bust,'” the Associated Press reported.

The AP explained the robots features:

The robot was designed to be a talking travel companion and could toss out factoids and carry 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.


According to the news agency, hitchBOT was a favorite among children, who followed it on social media.

The ill-fated robot kicked around the Boston area for a while, even taking in a Red Sox game, and found itself at sea for a short stint, but the journey came to a grisly ending in Philadelphia, where it was beaten to a pulp.

“Sadly, sadly it’s come to an end,” said co-creators Frauke Zeller.

The creators were sent a photo of the vandalized robot, but don’t know who destroyed it and can’t track it using the GPS feature because the battery is now dead.

The poor creature lasted a little over two weeks in the U.S., and its demise is sure to lend credence to the belief held by many foreigners that America is a violent country.

“I hope that people won’t be too disappointed, too sad,” Zeller said.

Tom Tillison


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