“Victoria B.C. or bust” was the initial message written on the Ryerson University project known as hitchBOT, the Canadian hitchhiking robot created to study the kindness and curiosity of human strangers.
In July 2014, hitchBOT set out on a cross-country mission, which it completed in 21 days. The robot also managed to find its way throughout parts of Europe.
Needless to say, hitchBOT was a Social Media sensation, with its own Twitter handle (@hitchBOT) and thousands of followers.
I’ve become fascinated by technological innovation where the end goal is to improve human understanding and collaboration. hitchBOT was yet another manifestation of the creative uses of technology to serve human progress.
When the news broke that hitchBOT had been damaged beyond repair in Philadelphia at the outset of its 2015 US-tour, I was truly disappointed. I was hoping that hitchBOT would make its way to the far corners of the globe and become a database of human behaviour and cultural insights.
Oh, the stories that this Canadian robotic ambassador could tell!
I imagine that hitchBOT’s demise was entirely predicted by its creators, who were intent on studying the limits of seemingly "good" human behavior.
Still, I feel a sense of disappointment that we humans do not create more, and wish very much that we would destroy less. The destruction of hitchBOT is yet another reminder that our society has a long way to go.
hitchBOT was more than a robot. It was backed by an entire team of human beings and donors committed to progress. No doubt they feel the destruction of their project more acutely than most of us.
Yours in digital,
Image Source: en.wikipedia.org