Hitchhiking robot brutally decapitated in the US

Last Updated 03 August 2015, 08:03 IST

A hitchhiking robot that captured millions of hearts by successfully travelling across Canada and parts of Europe has met a violent end after being vandalised in the US, just two weeks into its cross-country trek.

HitchBOT, the hitchhiking robot started its journey in Boston two weeks ago for a cross-country trek. It set out from Marblehead, Massachusetts with the goal of reaching San Francisco, but never made it off the East Coast.

Its trip came to an end on Saturday in Philadelphia after hitchhiking and visiting sites in Boston, Salem, Gloucester, Marblehead, and New York City, the Canadian researchers who built hitchBOT said.

The researchers said that they need to stop the experiment because hitchBOT was vandalised in Philadelphia. "Unfortunately, hitchBOT was vandalised overnight in Philadelphia; sometimes bad things happen to good robots," the researchers wrote on hitchBOT's website.

"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," they said.

The creators were sent an image of the vandalised robot but cannot track its exact location because the battery is dead. The makers do not know who destroyed the robot and they have no interest in pressing charges or finding the people who vandalised hitchBOT.

The hitchBOT - a robot from Port Credit, Ontario is a creation of Dr David Smith from the McMaster University, and Dr Frauke Zeller from the Ryerson University.
The "free-spirited" robot wanted to explore the world and meet new friends along the way, its website said.

The hitchBOT's journey began on July 27 last year. Since then the robot has hitched 19 rides and spent a total of 21 days exploring Canada. In February this year, it explored Germany.

The kid-size robot is immobile on its own so moved from one place to another by relying on the kindness of strangers. A Global Positioning System (GPS) within tracked its location and a camera randomly snapped photos about every 20 minutes to document its travels. During past travels, the robot attended a comic convention and a wedding and had its portrait painted in the Netherlands.

(Published 03 August 2015, 08:03 IST)

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