HitchBOT, a hitchhiking robot that made friends and fans worldwide, was destroyed beyond repair late last week in Philadelphia. The Canadian robot had successfully hitchhiked across Canada in 2014 and throughout parts of Europe earlier this year.
HitchBOT was created by Canadian researchers as a social experiment to study human behaviour. Co-creator David Smith said the goal was to investigate the nature of human behaviour; specifically "what kind of people are we?" The robot is child-sized and cannot move independently. Instead, the robot relies on the kindness of strangers to help it reach its intended destination. Without the friendly intervention of humans, the robot would never move.
The Canadian robot has had some amazing adventures, returning to Canada from Europe with almost as many souvenirs and stories as any person. The robot is incredibly popular on social media, with thousands of twitter followers and Facebook fans following its travels.
The US adventure began on July 17 in Boston. After visiting Fenway Park and making a trip to New York, the robot made its way to Philadelphia. The robot spent its last evening with YouTube star Jesse Wellens and was last seen active on the corner of Elfreth's Alley and 2nd Street. Some fans went to the area and were able to retrieve enough of the software to reconstruct the "brain". Other fans are arranging to send found parts back to the Canadian researchers.Of course, Twitter reacted as per usual, making jokes about it. https://twitter.com/shinypb/status/627862681471610880 https://twitter.com/MSampo/status/628203674628698113
But, the event has been particularly difficult for some children, many of whom followed the robot's adventures as part of science classes. Smith sent a message to the affected children, reassuring them that robots can be rebuilt. He had a different message for the culprits, saying that he's not in "the business of blame" and will instead focus on the work ahead. Nice guy ...for a robot.