HitchBOT the Hitchhiking robot destroyed upon reaching Philadelpilhia

By midian182
Aug 3, 2015
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  1. An experimental hitchhiking robot that relied on the kindness of strangers to get around has been found damaged beyond repair in Philadelphia. HitchBOT was only two weeks into an attempt to cross the United States and had already successfully travelled through Canada, the Netherlands and Germany without incident.

    The child-sized machine was created as part of a social experiment in human attitudes towards robots. Described as an “art project combined with science and technology” by Dr. Frauke Zeller, one of the robot’s creators, hitchBOT was immobile on its own and entirely dependent on strangers to pick it up and pass it on to other travelers.

    HitchBOT had access to a range of trivia within its memory, and its speech recognition software allowed for limited conversations with travelling companions. The robot could even ask a driver to plug it into an outlet or cigarette lighter if its battery was running low. A GPS was also placed in hitchBOT to track its location, and a camera took photos about every 20 minutes to document its travels.

    HitchBOT’s US tour had started in Marblehead, Massachusetts, on July 17. It traveled around Boston, where it checked off one of the items on its bucket list by attending a Red Sox baseball game. The robot’s adventure came to a premature end upon reaching Philadelphia on Saturday, when someone beheaded hitchBOT and removed all its electronics.

    The creators were sent an image of the vandalized robot but cannot track its location because the battery is dead. They said they don't know who destroyed it or why. Zeller added that she is most concerned about the children who loved it and followed its journey on social media.

    "We have no interest in pressing charges or finding the people who vandalized hitchBOT; we wish to remember the good times, and we encourage hitchBOT's friends and fans to do the same," the robot's creators wrote in an update.

    Permalink to story.

  2. 9Nails

    9Nails TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,212   +174

    Apparently it ran into trouble when "a couple of guys who were up to no good, started making trouble in [it's] neighborhood." Ahhh, Philadelphia, what should we think of you now?
  3. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,322   +263

    Clearly poor hitchbot was trying to hitch a ride to its auntie and uncle in Bel-Air. =(
    Timonius likes this.
  4. yRaz

    yRaz TS Evangelist Posts: 1,840   +884

    You should feel bad
  5. USAvenger

    USAvenger TS Enthusiast Posts: 24   +17

    "The City of Brotherly Love". The term "brotherly" obviously doesn't apply to robots.
  6. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,142   +483

    Well that's a bit depressing. Although it is Philadelphia.
  7. dunebeetle

    dunebeetle TS Member Posts: 22   +8

    Just another reason to hate this garbage American culture.
    trgz likes this.
  8. Endlesspath

    Endlesspath TS Rookie

    No surprise, the American culture in the past 20+ years has gone from a society of self-reliant, intelligent, independent yet law abiding and cohesive community members to primarily lazy "me too/where's mine/me first" slacker sheep out for the quick and easy. Most Americans (not all) have no real pride in themselves (just look at the low level of fitness/out-of-shape appearance), a lack of respect for order (the do whatever you want attitude) and as a summary that "the world owes me a living" mentality.
    trgz and stewi0001 like this.
  9. Misagt

    Misagt TS Booster Posts: 94   +40

    Hitchbot made it safely across, Canada, Germany and Netherlands. Soon after reaching America, someone destroys him. It's a sad day the state of America, although I doubt many of them noticed.
    SalaSSin likes this.
  10. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,142   +483

    That's pretty accurate and why I'm not proud to be an American.
    trgz likes this.
  11. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,729   +1,093

    So everyone can be in on the joke. :)

    9Nails likes this.
  12. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,114   +1,378

    I reckon it was the sand people.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2015
    madboyv1 likes this.
  13. Tanstar

    Tanstar TS Guru Posts: 394   +81

    Seems like a good lesson to all those children, on why hitching is NOT safe.
  14. yRaz

    yRaz TS Evangelist Posts: 1,840   +884

    I got the joke, but he's a horrible person for making it
  15. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,467   +1,760

    "Be it ever so ruthless, violent, stupid, and depraved, there's no place like home" ! I "heart" Philly....(or not).

    In modern day America, there were likely a half dozen people standing around with camera phones, clamoring for the robot's destruction. Who knows, maybe a video will pop up online.

    The overarching irony is the "old city" section of Philadelphia, is in the process of "gentrification", and "Elfreth's Alley", happens to be a famous tourist destination.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2015
    SalaSSin and trgz like this.
  16. rondean2000

    rondean2000 TS Rookie

    It was in Philadelphia, the Dodge City of the East.
  17. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,467   +1,760

    That would actually be Camden NJ. Although that city has gotten better now that the police have installed gunshot sensing microphones around the city.
  18. Snowden

    Snowden TS Member Posts: 68   +31

    Didn't anybody notice that the message written on the bot said "...or bust" ?

    I guess some crack head decided to bust it. Maybe he took it too literally.
  19. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,219   +157

    WELL?.. I am fully expecting that Captiancranky (king of the Gould ) to have the situation fully in hand by weeks end.
    Arris likes this.
  20. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,467   +1,760

    Dude, even the Gambino crime family doesn't go into Camden. They have an almost palatial fortress in the much more upscale Cherry Hill.

    With that said, a few of them are likely on retreat at club fed by now.

    Besides, they raised the toll for motorcycles on the bridges to NJ to five bucks, the same as a car. Not only is that blatantly rude, but I can't make the trip to Wildwood, spend half a day, and driving back to Philly without stopping to pee half a dozen times anymore.

    Moral of the story, I won't consider going to NJ unless there's a full scale and free airshow, which are never held in Camden...(y) Too many broken bottles and dead bodies on the runways.:oops: Come to think of it, I can't recall if Camden even has an airport...:confused:
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2015

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