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So, you may be wondering, what’s up with that cool, little robot that’s hitching across America this summer? Recall early in July we shared the official pre-trip announcement titled “Canadian hitchhiking robot to cross the U.S., relying solely on the kindness of strangers“. Well, I guess not all strangers are kind as Tripbot’s journey has come to a sudden end, sadly, this means that USA won’t get to experience all the fun that could have been!
In prior journeys, Hitchbot managed to hitch around Europe and crossed Canada (I had the pleasure of meeting up with him last summer myself), all without incident. Unfortunately, navigating the social robot through the urban jungles of America wasn’t quite as simple. The following update came last week from the Hitchbot official blog:
“hitchBOT’s trip came to an end last night in Philadelphia after having spent a little over two weeks hitchhiking and visiting sites in Boston, Salem, Gloucester, Marblehead, and New York City. Unfortunately, hitchBOT was vandalized 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?” and explore future adventures for robots and humans.”
Sadly, on this journey he only managed to hitch for about 300 miles! See CNN
The team has yet to conduct media interviews, however, I’m guessing that sadly, this may actually wind up being a pretty big black eye for America, and in particular, Phily – it definitely will be spread like wildfire in the International media, I’m unsure if the American media will be as open to discuss the story. Hopefully the city of Philadelphia and State of PA will be proactive and offer up an apology in an attempt to save some face!
Don’t worry though, he’ll be back!
If you’re wondering what is HitchBOT? Well, essentially, the little guy is robot technology built by academics in Canada and hitch hikes around, depending on the hospitality of a lucky few people that are selected to provide him with transport and lodging. All the while the journey is tracked and shared, blogged, and the like. The project encourages youth to get involved in robotics and STEM technologies and also brings many smiles to the faces of people he meets!
How does he hitch rides?
The robot will bum rides in his journey, this possible thanks to a moving arm (limb) that will enable him to signal for a ride. He’ll be equipped with a GPS and 3G wireless connectivity so he can post social media updates along his journey, keeping us all informed of where he is. Apparently Hitchbot might be game for people to even take him home to party, hang at a BBQ or just meet the family – if he consents! Some other cool features… The robot will have voice recognition and processing abilities that will allow it to make small talk with its voice. It will even be able to draw on Wikipedia for conversation topics. It will also have an LED screen so it can message humans using text, and can make some facial expressions. And it will be able to hold text conversations with multiple people at the same time over the internet.
Read more at http://m.hitchbot.me/
See also @hitchbot on Twitter
Article by @gletham