CHICAGO — Strangers are just robots you haven't met yet.
Chicagoans may soon have the chance to meet HitchBOT, a Canadian hitchhiking robot setting out on a journey across the U.S. with a stop in Chicago.
The robot, made out of a beer bucket and pool noodles, relies on the kindness of strangers to pick it up and has made several successful trips abroad.
“HitchBOT was very well received as it made its way across Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands – proving that robots can indeed trust humans,” said HitchBOT’s co-creator Professor Frauke Zeller in a press release. “[A]nd given that HitchBOT is built out of a bucket, we thought it would be only natural if we let it have a bucket list for this exciting new adventure.”
HitchBOT has hitchhiked across several countries. [HitchBOT]
The traveling, waterproof robot began its U.S. journey Friday in Boston, with an aim to end up in San Francisco. In addition to Millennium Park, stops on its bucket list include Times Square, Mount Rushmore and the Grand Canyon.
Physically, HitchBOT is made out of a beer bucket, pool noodles, dishwashing gloves, a plastic cake saver, a garbage can lid and wellies (rubber boots), weighing 25 pounds and standing three feet tall.
Kyla Gardner discusses why we shouldn't fear the hitchhiking robot:
The tech side of the robot's construction allows it to be interactive with the people it meets.
The robot has a GPS and a camera, microphone and speaker, and can access Wikipedia knowledge for its conversations. It posts to social media to track its progress and adventures, but won't post a photo of a person without permission.
HitchBOT also displays its "emotions" via an LED face. It charges by solar panel and car powerboutlet, and will let drivers know if it gets low on battery.
"For my trip across America, my family has been kind enough to install a battery meter on my beer bucket torso. It can tell my new friends how much energy I have left (so they can avoid a crankyBOT!)," says a press release for hitchBOT.
HitchBOT explains what he or she is all about. [HitchBOT]
If you can't think of what you might say to a traveling robot should you decide to pick it up, you can ask hitchBOT about its interests.
"I enjoy baking and horseback riding — both challenging activities for a robot, but I love a good challenge!" says the bot's website. "My favorite movie is Wall-E and my favorite song is Mr. Roboto, of course. I’m a proud robot — I like robot stuff."
Lest you fear hitchBOT, note that the goal of hitchBOT's journey is human-robot harmony.
"I hope that my hitchhiking trip will allow me to meet many interesting people, see beautiful places, and learn more about humanity," according to the computer bucket's website. "I think my trip will lead to conversations about how robots and humans can live in harmony, and I hope that humans and robots can learn to trust each other as a result of my journey."
The journeying, noodled can will be using the hashtag #hitchBOTinUSA for the adventure.
HitchBOT plans to make it from Boston to San Francisco with the kindness of strangers. [HitchBOT]
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