A Canadian research team built hitchBOT, a robot designed to hitchhike its way across the world.  After successful and largely-uneventful hitchhikes across Germany, the Netherlands, and even the large expanse of Canada, the team behind the automaton decided to let hitchBOT try and make his way across the USA – and America ruined it, as the machine was destroyed two weeks and less than 400 miles into its journey.

In a post made to Facebook, the research team made it clear that, while they harbor no ill will towards the person or persons that destroyed hitchBOT, there are no plans to immediately build another robot at this point.  In their statement, they said:

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. 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.

hitchBOT himself had active Instagram and Facebook accounts, and it was clear that its journey around the world was being enjoyed by many people.  The actual robot was about the size of a child and contained GPS tracking devices, cameras that took photos of its surroundings every 20 minutes, and it could even carry on a limited conversation with its gracious hosts.  It was dropped off in New York City on July 17 with a “San Francisco or Bust” sign on it, and was traveling normally until the research team was sent a picture of the wrecked machine on August 1.  The cause and culprits of the destruction have not yet been officially released.

Hopefully, the group that created hitchBOT will try again soon, even if they (understandably) choose not to have it trek across the United States again.

UPDATE: According to this article at Gizmodo, there is a short video of security camera footage showing a lone man wearing a football jersey kicking and destroying hitchBOT around 5:45am.  Feel free to click the link to check out the video for yourself.

via: USA Today

Category: WTF?