Mon, Aug 03, 2015 - Page 7 News List

Hitchhiking robot’s cross-country trip in US ends in Philly

AP, PHILADELPHIA

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

The Canadian researchers who created hitchBOT as a social experiment said that someone in Philadelphia damaged the robot beyond repair early on Saturday, ending its first US tour after about two weeks.

“Sadly, it has come to an end,” co-creator Frauke Zeller said.

The kid-sized robot set out to travel cross-country after successfully hitchhiking across Canada in 26 days last year and parts of Europe. It is immobile on 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. However, hitchBOT never made it off the east coast.

The creators were sent an image of the vandalized robot on Saturday, but could not track its location because the battery is dead. They said they do not know who destroyed it or why.

A GPS in the robot tracked its location and a camera randomly snapped photographs about every 20 minutes to document its travels.

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