hitchBot: Not The Hitchhiker Your Mother Warned You About!

“My name is hitchBot.” Your mother might have warned you about picking up hitchhikers, but clearly she never met hitchBOT. The brainchild of Ryerson’s Frauke Zeller and McMaster’s David Smith, hitchBOT was raised by a family of researchers, and described itself as “a free-spirited robot who wanted to explore Canada and meet new friends along […]
“My name is hitchBot.” Your mother might have warned you about picking up hitchhikers, but clearly she never met hitchBOT. The brainchild of Ryerson’s Frauke Zeller and McMaster’s David Smith, hitchBOT was raised by a family of researchers, and described itself as “a free-spirited robot who wanted to explore Canada and meet new friends along the way.” HitchBot has a bucket body, pool noodles for arms and legs, wears rubber boots and has rubber gloves for hands, complete with the ever important hitching thumb. HitchBOT was created by a team of Ontario-based communications researchers studying the relationship between people and technology. It’s not every day you see a robot at the side of the road, and hitchBOT quickly became a media darling. Pretty soon, hitchBOT was fielding interview requests and rubbing shoulders with celebrities. Somebody would be curious, stop and pick her up. She would say, ‘Hi, I’m hitchBot, I’m going to Victoria. Would you like to give me a ride?’ Usually they would say, ‘Sure.’ She would hop in, plug into the cigarette lighter and they drive along. The driver would drop her on the highway because they had to turn off and they would just leave her on the highway. Just like some human hitchhikers, hitchBot was good road company. She would ask what you think about the creation of the universe or if you believe in God. She was able to talk about that she was going to Victoria. She explained who her creators are by name. So she’s very intelligent. Over the course of its cross-country adventure hitchBOT chilled with the Kelowna-based band The Wild!, met the groundhog known as Wiarton Willie, and crashed a wedding, where it adorably interrupted the bride and groom’s toasts to proclaim, “I like to make friends.” That level of cute should really be illegal, but hitchBOT pulled it off in style. After travelling more than 6,000 kilometres from coast to coast, hitchBOT arrived in Victoria, B.C. on Saturday. Throughout the three-week journey, a popular Twitter account, @hitchBOT, kept followers informed of the robot’s progress and adventures. The account currently has more than 34,000 followers. Robotics are definitely becoming increasingly larger part of our lives. Scientists from Japan and France, working together, announced last month that they had developed an algorithm that can recognize emotions from a human gait. What is your opinion on this? Please comment below…
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