A Canadian-made robot is attempting to hitchhike across the country without supervision from its human creators.
Conceived in Ontario from the minds of Dr. David Smith of McMaster University and Dr. Frauke Zeller of Ryerson University, Hitchbot is “a free-spirited robot who wants to explore Canada and meet new friends along the way.” He started his trek like any human hitchhiker would on Sunday—but there’s no guarantee of his survival; people can, of course, choose to ignore him or in theory even destroy him.
“I’m quite nervous because I’ll be hitchhiking alone. My journey’s success is reliant on those kind-hearted souls that I’ll hopefully meet along the way,” Hitchbot explains. “I’ll need to consider what to pack and where to go to recharge after a long day. Of course, I’ll also need to consider how to interact with locals.”
HitchBOT will be blogging, tweeting, and instagramming his adventure from Halifax to—if successful—Victoria, BC.
“We want to take the question that we usually ask — which is, ‘Can we trust robots?’ — flip it around and ask, ‘Really, can robots trust human beings?'” Hitchbot’s co-creator Frauke Zeller, an assistant professor at Ryerson University in Toronto, told the Canadian Press. “Hitchbot really sits right in the middle of those interesting discussions about what are our future relationships with robots and what kind of cultural mood are we engaged in currently in terms of our sense of adventure and our wariness or not of strangers.”