hitchBOT experiment destroyed

Posted on 4 Aug 2015 by Victoria Fitzgerald

A Candian experiment to test the kindness of strangers has been vandalised by an unknown person on Saturday in Philadelphia.

A lone male vandal was captured on film repeatedly kicking the robot in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The project was aimed at measuring the helpfulness of strangers, as well as their interactions with robots as the machine hitchhiked all over the world.

hitchBOT traveled more than 6,213 miles through Canada and spent 10 days hitchhiking through Germany earlier this year.

In the last two weeks, the robot has traveled through Boston, Salem, Gloucester, Marblehead, New York City and finally Philadelphia.

Over the weekend the creators were sent an image of the machine with its head and limbs removed.

hitchBOT was vandalised on its US adventure.
hitchBOT was vandalised on its US adventure.

A message from its creators was posted on the hitchBOT website: “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 vandalised 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.”

The machine is approximately 3 feet tall and weighs about 25 pounds. It has camera vision, a microphone and a speaker system, which gives it the ability to see, hear and speak.

It has a sense of space as a result of 3G and GPS capabilities, and is aware of surroundings and where it intends to go next.

For its trip across America, hitchBOT was installed with a battery meter, which indicates power levels and whether it understands interactions.

The machine’s creators maintain they will continue the project and learn from Saturday’s unfortunate incident.