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America, be on the Lookout for hitchBOT

Picking up hitchhikers isn’t safe nowadays. However, there is one hitchhiker that’s too adorable to pass by. The cute, little hitchhiking humanoid robot is from Canada and wants to hitchhike his way across America. David Harris Smith, a professor of communication at McMaster University, Ontario and Frauke Zeller an assistant professor of communication at Ryerson University are the creators of hitchBOT. The two professors created hitchBOT for the sole purpose of studying the culture and limitations of human kindness. Furthermore, they were interested in studying artificial intelligence.

The designers decided to give hitchBOT a low-tech appearance and a kid-size height. Furthermore, they used pool noodles for his arms and legs. They added a pair of yellow gardening gloves, yellow rain boots, an old beer pail, and a head from an acrylic cake server. However, don’t let his outside appearance fool you; hitchBOT is equipped with a GPS tracker so his creators can follow his progress.

The small robot has a high-tech system that snaps pictures every twenty minutes so the researchers can document its whereabouts.  Furthermore, the bot posts the data he collects to his Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. Currently, this cute hitchhiking robot has 34,000 people following him on Twitter, 13,000 people track him on Instagram, and he has over 60,000 likes on his Facebook page.

The two researchers who dreamed up hitchBOT wanted to explore two issues. They were interested in the usefulness of a robot as a social companion and studying society’s growing aversion to adventure and risk. According to Smith, he is in hopes that hitchBOT “might be used to fathom differences in cultural attitudes towards social robots”.

Last year hitchBOT made his way across Canada, but this summer hitchBOT is in America. His adventure started in Salem, Massachusetts in July. The robot is hoping to make his way across America to Los Angeles. However, he has a bucket list of different stops on the way that he’s hoping to see.

If you happen to come across this tiny robot, stop and give him a ride. He will keep you entertained during the trip. However, the makers of the bot hope that people will charge the little guy if his battery is running low and not drop him off on a busy road. The researchers have no rules or guidelines on how you can interact with hitchBOT.

This is an excellent research project for the creators. It helps them determine human kindness, how we can interact with robots, and if a robot is scared of humans. Maybe in the future we’ll see more hitchBOT around. But for now get to know the little guy and give him a ride. Just make sure to keep him safe and not put him out on a busy highway. 

Learn about hitchBOT, his creators, their research and his adventures in this video.

If you’re interested in following hitchBOT please join him:

  1. Follow hitchBOT across America.
  2. Become a fan of hitchBOT on Facebook.
  3. Learn where hitchBOT is on Twitter.
  4. Check out hitchBOT on Instagram

 

Image: flickr.com

Ann Johnston

About Ann Johnston

Ann enjoys writing, reading, gardening, fishing and the great outdoors. Her job has allowed her to travel and live in different countries. She enjoys studying and learning about different cultures.

Ann Johnston

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