C’mon Americans, what is wrong with us? What kind of society do we live in where an adorable hitchhiking robot — hitchBOT — can make it all the way across Canada but can’t spend 14 days in the US without getting decapitated?
After a successful traversal of Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands, hitchBOT, a creation of Dr. David Smith of McMaster University and Dr. Frauke Zeller of Ryerson University, started its journey across the US two weeks ago. The intrepid robot set out on July 17th from Salem, Massachusetts with the hopes of seeing Time Square’s bright lights, the Grand Canyon’s breathtaking (circuit-scrambling?) view, and Disney World’s candy-colored castles. Equipped with GPS and a chatbot program, hitchBOT was going to make friends and catalog a storied journey via social media.
Unfortunately, hitchBOT didn’t make it very far.
Last weekend, the hitchBOT team reported that the LED-and-signature-adorned hitchhiker had been vandalized and damaged (read: decapitated by monsters) in Philadelphia, ending the trip. The full message from the team is below:
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 vandalized 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.
HitchBOT’s family assures that there will be more information available this week, and that the team will not be pressing charges against the garbage people who vandalized the smiling, pool noodle-armed hitchhiker. “We wish to remember the good times,” the team writes, “and we encourage hitchBOT’s friends and fans to do the same.”
What if this was a test America? Huh? What if hitchBOT was a way for aliens to determine if we were ready to join the United Federation of Planets? Failed. Totally failed. Go think about that in a corner.
CORRECTION: A previous verison of this post featured a video of the supposed destruction of hitchBOT that turned out to be fake. The video has since been removed.