Hitch­hik­ing ro­bot’s cross-coun­try trip in the US ends in Philadelphia

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

A hitch­hik­ing ro­bot that cap­tured the hearts of fans world­wide met its demise in the U.S.

The Cana­dian re­searchers who cre­ated hitch­BOT as a so­cial experiment told The As­so­ci­ated Press that some­one in Philadelphia dam­aged the ro­bot be­yond re­pair early Satur­day, end­ing its first Amer­i­can two weeks.

“Sadly, sadly it’s come to an end,” said Frauke Zeller, one of its co-cre­ators.

The kid-size ro­bot set out to travel cross- coun­try af­ter suc­cess­fully hitch­hik­ing across Canada in 26 days last year and parts of Europe. It’s im­mo­bile on


af­ter about 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 started in Mar­ble­head, Mas­sachusetts, on July 17 with its thumb raised sky­ward, a grin on its dig­i­tal face and tape wrapped around its cylin­dri­cal head that read “San Fran­cisco or bust.”

The ro­bot bounced around the Bos­ton area and was briefly taken to sea. One day, it took in a Red Sox game, check­ing off one of the items on the bucket list cre­ated for it. But hitch­BOT never made it off the East Coast.

The cre­ators were sent an im- age of the vandalized ro­bot Satur­day but couldn’t track its lo­ca­tion be­cause the bat­tery is dead. They said they don’t know who de­stroyed it or why.

The ro­bot was de­signed to be a talk­ing travel com­pan­ion and could toss out factoids and carry lim­ited con­ver­sa­tion. A GPS in the ro­bot 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 it had its por­trait painted in the Nether­lands. It once spent a week with a heavy me­tal band.

With the


de­stroyed, Zeller said, she was most con­cerned about chil­dren who loved hitch­BOT and fol­lowed it on so­cial media. Her team doesn’t plan to re­lease the last photo of it to pro­tect young fans who might be dis­traught.

“I hope that peo­ple won’t be too dis­ap­pointed, too sad,” she said.

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