Hitchbot experiences 'American Exceptionalism' in Philadelphia

Reply Tue 4 Aug, 2015 05:48 am

Aug 3 2015, 9:46 am ET
HitchBOT, Hitchhiking Robot, Meets Demise in Philadelphia After Two Weeks in U.S.

by Elisha Fieldstadt

HitchBOT's U.S. Tour Ends With Vandalization in Philly 2:07

Philadelphia may be the City of Brotherly Love — but that compassion apparently does not include robots.

The child-sized robot, hitchBOT, had hitchhiked across Canada and parts of Europe, was damaged beyond repair in Philadelphia, according to its creators.

My trip must come to an end for now, but my love for humans will never fade. Thanks friends: http://t.co/DabYmi6OxH pic.twitter.com/sJPVSxeawg
— hitchBOT (@hitchBOT) August 1, 2015

The robot had set out to travel cross-country. It was immobile on its own, relying on the kindness of strangers. Those who picked it up often passed it to other travelers or left it where others might notice it.

It began its American odyssey in Marblehead, Massachusetts, on July 17. It made it to the Boston area and even took in a Red Sox game.

But after just two weeks in America, hitchBOT was "vandalized" in Philadelphia on Friday night, according to a statement from the team monitoring the robot's travels.

The creators were sent an image of the vandalized robot Saturday but could not track its location because its battery was dead, according to The Associated Press.

"Sometimes bad things happen to good robots," the statement said.

Hitchhiking Robot Finds Friends in Rhode Island 1:21

The robot was designed to be a talking travel companion. It could throw out random factoids.

"We want to see what people do with this kind of technology when we leave it up to them," Frauke Zeller, one of the creators and an assistant professor in professional communication at Toronto's Ryerson University, told the AP. "It's an art project in the wild — it invites people to participate."

Super excited to board my flight. @AirCanada gave me my boarding pass and an official Pilots Wings pin! #hitchbot pic.twitter.com/G1NRzN7Bye
— hitchBOT (@hitchBOT) September 15, 2014

The robot, wearing yellow wellies, attended a wedding in Germany, had its portrait painted in the Netherlands and was making big plans for its cross-country tour of the U.S., including taking in some jazz in New Orleans and snapping a selfie with the Hollywood sign.

Related: HitchBOT the Hitchhiking Robot Embarks on Cross-Country Tour of U.S.

The creators of the robot did not say whether the machine would try to complete its bucket list in the U.S., but promised that they would keep the project alive.

"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," they said in a statement.

Taking in another sight #hitchBOT #hitchBOTinUSA pic.twitter.com/oqbcdFVcN5
— ryan sokolowski (@sokmelousy) July 26, 2015
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