he HitchBOT was a child-sized robot with a bucket-shaped body, yellow boots, blue foam limbs, and a charming LED smiley face. It was created for an interesting psychological test—not for the robot but for the humans it encountered.
HitchBOT’s stated goal was to see whether robots could trust humans. As it wasn’t capable of moving from place to place on its own, it relied on the help of the strangers it met. The robot’s audio and visual hardware allowed it to see humans and converse with them. It also had a sense of where it was at all times and constantly took photos of its surroundings.
This adorable little guy was an international adventurer and social media star. It successfully hitchhiked across Canada in less than four weeks. It also journeyed through Germany and the Netherlands without a scrape. It spent a week as a groupie for a heavy metal band and explored the winding canals of Amsterdam. Its next stop in the United States, however, didn’t go so well.
HitchBOT was a mere one-year-old when it was mugged in the “City of Brotherly Love” and beat up beyond repair. Vandals tore off its arms, threw them on the ground, and started kicking the robot. Nobody knows who ended the robot’s journey or why, but the creators aren’t pressing charges. They released a statement simply asking the world, “What can be learned from this?”