Hitchbot Has Arrived In Victoria, Officially Finishing Its Trek Across Canada
This just in, folks: yesterday, three weeks after setting out from Halifax, Nova Scotia; Hitchbot arrived in Victoria, BC - miraculously unscathed, though it certainly did have a few close calls along the way.
Hitchbot was developed by a coalition of scientists from several Canadian universities; designed as an experiment in robot-human interaction. Equipped with GPS and the capacity to strike up a conversation with any strangers it might encounter, the robot was sent from Halifax on July 26, with the Open Art Space Center in Victoria as its final destination - a journey of 6,200 kilometers. Hitchbox was also equipped with the ability to make posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, updating anyone who'd care to listen on its location.
"Usually we are concerned with whether or not we can trust robots," explained Dr. Frauke Zeller, one of the professors who designed Hitchbot. "This project asks if robots can trust human beings."
Apparently, the answer is yes - at least in Canada. See, the thing about Hitchbot is that it's completely helpless; it relied entirely on its charms to make its way across the country. Along the way, it crashed a wedding, attended a powwow, and even did the Harlem Shake. In the process, it seems to have captured the hearts of Canadians everywhere - it has thousands of new friends, followers, and fans on social media since completing its trek.
"We're elated," said co-creator David Smith. "It's been really great fun and to me it seems like it's brought people together in a really interesting way."
To thank all its fans, followers, and friend, Hitchbot will be hosting a finale event this Thursday from 7-9:30 PM PDT at the Open Space Arts Society in Victoria. There's no word yet on what it'll be doing after that - presumably retiring to a quiet corner to catch up with all the interesting people it met along the way. Who knows? Maybe there's an even longer trip in the robot's future - perhaps a cross-continental one?
Anyway, that's neither here nor there. The results of the Hitchbot experiment seem quite clear at this point: robots and humans can get along just fine, especially when social media is involved. Hey, maybe technology really does bring people closer together.
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