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HitchBOT: Robot Hitchhiker Embarks On Journey Across The US


A Canadian robot known as “hitchBOT” is making its way across America after having successfully hitchhiked its way from Nova Scotia to British Columbia.

The robotic hitchhiker, which is the result of a joint project between researchers at Ryerson University and McMaster University, was initially designed as a sociology experiment of sorts: a test to determine whether a robot could trust humans enough to hitch a ride across the country.

While the bot managed to make its way across Canada, Discovery News reports that observers have noted that such an adventure was only possible in Canada, as the country is generally considered to be the nicest nation-state on the planet.

The robot, which offers small talk and adorableness in exchange for a ride, was employed by its Canadian creators to study the current state of artificial intelligence, the limitations of human kindness and culture, the usefulness of social robots and society’s growing aversion to risk and adventure.

This time around, hitchBOT’s travels will take it from Salem, Massachusetts all the way to Los Angeles, California in a coast-to-coast adventure which began last week.

The humanoid robot’s creators told the Associated Press that they hope drivers who pick the bot up for a ride will plug it in to charge its battery if its running low and hopefully, they won’t drop it off on the side of busy highways.

David Harris Smith, one of the robot’s creators and a professor of communications at McMaster University, told Live Science last year during the bot’s journey across Canada that the bot “might be used to fathom differences in cultural attitudes toward social robotics,” which are also known as companion robots.

From a cultural and sociological perspective, hitchBOT might be used to fathom differences in cultural attitudes toward social robotics

In other news, a humanoid robot has exhibited signs of self-awareness.

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