HitchBOT is a Canadian made robot that was created to hitchhike from one end of the country to the other. It would rely completely on the kindness of strangers to
get it from one end of
Canada clear to the other
coast, then later through
Germany, the Netherlands, and
HitchBOT’s first trip from
Halifax, Nova Scotia to Victoria,
British Columbia was a complete
success. It hitchhiked over 10,000
Km and traveled the distance in 21
days, hitching 19 rides along the way.
His route was fairly flexible — much
like a hitchhiker’s would be. Because
drivers are all heading to different
places and traveling different distances,
HitchBOT was happy with any ride that
took him in the direction of his end
goal. His inviting smile and
programmed blinking — along with
his small body and goofy rubber
glove hands — were all planned to
make him appear more innocent
and more likely to receive help.
The robot was picked up by
varying types: couples, groups
of guys on vacation, a group of
campers traveling, single
people — all eager to help
make history. On top of
being all around cute,
HitchBOT has the entirety of
Wikipedia programmed into his
robotic brain, so he could converse on just
about any topic someone could think of — past the
point of interest. When drivers got tired of
HitchBOT running the topic of sports,
or cars, or the War of 1812, or
whatever they initially wanted to
discuss, he was programmed with
a few commands to make him stop.
You could kindly ask HitchBOT to
“be quiet” or “take a nap” and he’d
happily shut his robotic mouth for a
few hours to enjoy the ride.
Many photos were taken along his
journey. He attended a wedding, saw
his original creator’s family in Toronto,
HitchBOT then continued
his adventures in the Netherlands, where
he went on an arts and culture “vacation.” He
By Holden Berry
SERVO 12.2015 39
HitchBOT began his trip on July23rd, 2014 in Halifax, Canada.
HitchBOT poses with some friends
before he began his USA journey.
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HitchBOT posing with two fans at a Canadian convention.