After its journey from Canada to Germany was a tremendous success last year, HitchBOT is making its way across the USA this year, all with the help of kind strangers who will give it a lift. And they’ve always been saying by social media, “Hey come to the States, we can do that too”.
“[A]nd given that HitchBOT is built out of a bucket, we thought it would be only natural if we let it have a bucket list for this exciting new adventure”.
But hitchBOT has a Global Positioning System to track its location and randomly takes a photo every 20 minutes to document its travels.
“It has a really low-tech look to it, something we dubbed the ‘yard-sale aesthetic, ‘” said David Harris Smith, the other creator and an assistant professor in communication studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. The robot itself looks like the love child of Lost in Space ” s robot and a laundry basket – but that lo-fi charm just makes it cooler.
That question-Can we be trusted with something as singular and intriguing as a hitchhiking robot, alone in the world-is at the heart of hitchBOT’s journey.
Along the way, it hopes to see some quintessential American sites, including Times Square, Mount Rushmore and the Grand Canyon.
Assuming all goes well, hitchBOT will be posting its own updates – including photos and videos – on the hitchBOT website and various social media platforms. Its creators intentionally cast their gaze aside. It carries only a Global Positioning System, camera, and of course its digital brain, which can allow hitchBOT to communicate and hold conversations with its traveling companions.
So far, according to the publicly available Global Positioning System information from the robot, hitchBOT has made its way up the coast and on Saturday afternoon was near Gloucester, northeast of Boston. “It can tell my new friends how much energy I have left (so they can avoid a crankyBOT!)”, says a press release for hitchBOT.
“It’s kind of remarkable … I nearly felt bad putting it there”.
The cross-country tour of Canada took 26 days, spanning more than 6,000 miles.
“Each trip is a little bit different”. “The one thing that’s fairly consistent is the sense of goodwill that people pick up on”. HitchBot is all about whether robots can trust humans, especially random people encountered on the road.
While hitchhiking is illegal in parts of America and frowned upon in most others, a Canadian seeks to travel from Massachusetts to San Francisco, California by thumbing it. “And then we might decide, or start talking about what’s it’s going to do next”.