Summer 2015 marked the failed American odyssey of hitchBOT, the hitchhiking humanoid built for motorists to tote from Salem, Massachusetts, to San Francisco. It got as far as Philly before being torn limb from limb. But in Canada, where people are infinitely friendlier toward roadside robots, the original hitchBOT — which did manage to thumb it cross-country — will be enshrined in a national museum.
CBC Radio reports that the original hitchBOT will be safely housed in a permanent exhibit at the Canada Science and Technology Museum. That version made it from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Victoria, British Columbia in 2014 intact, across thousands of kilometres that span Canada’s entire southern border with the US.
It’s dang scrappy: a bucket body and pool noodle limbs with open-source AI that makes its language software a verbal grab-bag. And yet it was enough to not only get the thing across the Great White North, but Germany and the Netherlands, too. But in August, the Canadian researchers behind hitchBOT announced that vandals in Philadelphia vandalised it two weeks into a journey that successfully shuttled the creation around New England and New York City.
CBC reports that the museum’s leaky roof has apparently led to an airborne mould problem that’s driven the institution to close until 2017. So in the meantime, CBC reports that hitchBOT could be back “on the road”, according to museum curator of communications technology Tom Everrett. He told CBC that the ‘bot will be “interacting with Canadians”, which might be code for “interacting with folks who won’t mutilate hitchBOT”.
Top image via hitchBot.