The Hitchhiking Robot Which Failed to Make It Across the US

In a Nutshell

In July 2015, developers in Canada conducted a social experiment, whereby they want to immerse a robot into society. The plan was to send the robot, known as HitchBOT, from Boston all the way across America. However, unfortunately, the trial lasted approximately two-weeks due to a spiteful act of vandalism.

The Whole Bushel

Social experiments are attempted almost every single week across the globe; people are always interested to see how the human race reacts in different scenarios. Now, usually, these social tests are centered around a controversial topic, such as race, gender or sexuality. But, with this incident back in July 2015, there was a completely unique approach.

David Harris Smith and Frauke Zeller, who were both passionate researchers, decided to delve into a futuristic era which won’t come about for a number of years. Their sole aim was to gather data, information, and knowledge on how humans would interact with a robot. That may sound strange, but considering many experts predict robots to have a larger presence in upcoming times, it was a clever idea.

So, they didn’t waste any time and got the project straight into its development phase. After months of hard work, they produced a robot which was given the name of HitchBOT. It was equipped with everything it needed to mimic the actions of a normal human, and it was tasked with making it across America as a hitchhiker.

For instance, it had GPS which was programmed with directions, 3G wireless connectivity, a built-in camera, and a child’s booster seat for its backside. You’re probably wondering why it needed the booster seat, right?

Essentially, Smith and Zeller were hoping the American public would respond well to the robot, and help it in its quest to reach the other side of the States by picking it up and dropping it off. That’s why the booster seat was a necessary addition, so it could be placed into a car. Moving on, after it was released on its journey, the pair of researchers were full of excitement.

But, just two weeks into the experiment, they received some awful news – HitchBOT was found on the roadside in Philadelphia and had literally been destroyed by vandals. Soon after, they released a statement, which read:

“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.”

Although, it wasn’t all doom and gloom, as prior to the venture into America, HitchBOT had already journeyed across both Germany and Canada successfully. So, it was disheartening to learn that he suffered his demise in what’s widely known as the ‘Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave’. But, let’s just hope HitchBOT has a revival sometime in the near future!

Show Me The Proof

HitchBOT, the hitchhiking robot, gets beheaded in Philadelphia