HitchBot Destroyed: Hitchhiking Robot Vandalized Beyond Repair In Philadelphia

HitchBot, the hitchhiking robot, has been “killed” in Philadelphia — the City of Brotherly Love. The child-sized robot, which was created as part of a social experiment to determine how humans interact with technology, had successfully hitchhiked across parts of Europe and Canada before arriving in the United States, according to its creators.

The hitchhiking robot was supposed to thumb rides across the country. HitchBot was immobile and was relying entirely on the kindness of strangers to maneuver around America. The robot started its trek in Marblehead, Massachusetts, on July 17. It traveled to Boston, and apparently rooted for the home team during a Red Sox game.

After only two weeks in the United States, HitchBot was vandalized beyond repair on Friday evening, a statement from the group monitoring the robot’s travels, said. A photo of the vandalized hitchhiking robot was sent to its creators on Saturday night. Because its battery was dead, the team could not track its location in order to recover the broken pieces.

“Sometimes bad things happen to good robots,” the statement sadly stated. HitchBot was reportedly designed to function as a “talking travel companion,” and would shared “random facts” during the ride. “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.”

“We want to see what people do with this kind of technology when we leave it up to them,” Frauke Zeller, one of robot’s creators said. Zeller is an assistant professor of communications at the Rybersn University in Toronto. “It’s an art project in the wild — it invites people to participate.”

The creators of the robot did not say whether the machine would try to complete its bucket list in the U.S., but promised that they would keep the project alive.

“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,” they said in a statement.