Aaron Widmar

Hitchking Robot Attempts Cross-America Road Trip, Is Savagely Killed

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hitchBOT at home with it's research team in Port Credit, Ontario.

hitchBOT, the hitchhiking robot, made his way into cars, and hearts, across Canada and Europe
Photo: hitchBOT

Remember that adorable, sort-of-human-looking robot which took a road trip across Canada? We reported about the little yellow-and-blue machine as he ventured from Nova Scotia to Victoria, making friends with numerous friendly people along the way. hitchBOT’s daring journey across Canada was so successful–as documented by the numerous Instagram and Twitter appearances he made–he attempted the same journey across the Netherlands and Germany.

His European excursion was even more successful, proving that hospitality and acceptance can reach across oceans.

Filled with hope and ready to embrace even more new friends, hitchBOT set off on his third trek. Starting in Boston in July, hitchBOT started his adventure across these great States headed to California.

Then he met America and was destroyed.

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hitchBOT Receives No Love in Philadelphia

hitchBOT began as the brainchild of two Canadian professors who wanted to investigate sociological and technological frontiers. Using articifial intelligence, speech recognition, social media, and similar technology, hitchBOT was able to start conversations with strangers and document his journey online. His body consists of foam water noodle appendages, rubber glove hands, and a bug-zapper-like head with facial displays.

hitchBOT in a car with his lovable robot face

hitchBOT in a car with his lovable robot face all happy ‘n stuff

His latest trek to document the friendliness and acceptance of American peoples was brutally cut short this week. According to the last update on hitchBOT’s website:

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.

After making it across Canada and Germany, hitchBOT was vandalized and torn apart in the “city of brotherly love.” An image of the broken, lifeless figure spread quickly through social media after being sent to its creators.

hitchbot destroyed hitchhiking robot

What’s left of our friend hitchBOT, after being given an American greeting

The details of what happened are in question but long story short, two video bloggers were the last to have hitchBOT in their possession. After reporting via social media that hitchBOT had been destroyed, they linked to faked security footage on another YouTube site of (potentially) one of the bloggers tearing hitchBOT apart. We won’t share their video because we don’t want to give them any further undeserved publicity, but you can watch the footage here if you really have to.

hitchbot surveillance footage

Does this pass for humor in Philadelphia?

Obviously, the footage was deemed fake by many of its viewers, but the fact that hitchBOT has been destroyed still seems certain.

hitchBOT deserved better than what he received when visiting America. Plenty of people across the country would’ve gladly shown hospitality and respect for other people’s property. Unfortunately, hitchBOT didn’t make it far enough to meet those people.

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News Sources: hitchBOT.me, Factually

Aaron is unashamed to be a native Clevelander and the proud driver of a 1995 Saturn SC-2 (knock on wood). He gleefully utilizes his background in theater, literature, and communication to dramatically recite his own articles to nearby youth. Mr. Widmar happily resides in Dayton, Ohio with his magnificent wife, Vicki, but is often on the road with her exploring new destinations. Aaron has high aspirations for his writing career but often gets distracted pondering the profound nature of the human condition and forgets what he was writing… See more articles by Aaron.