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HitchBOT the hitchhiking robot's U.S. tour is cut short in Philadelphia

Recent footage uploaded to Snapchat allegedly shows the hitchhiking robot's final moments of life in Philadelphia.
/ Source: TODAY

There’s a reason why your parents warned against hitchhiking: The road can be a dangerous, cruel place.

At least that seems to be one lesson learned from the experience of hitchBOT, a hitchhiking robot whose journey across the U.S. appears to have ended violently over the weekend in Philadelphia. Indeed, hitchBOT was found without its head after an apparent attack by vandals.

Recent footage uploaded to Snapchat by vlogger Jesse Wellens allegedly shows the robot’s final moments of life in the City of Brotherly Love:

“Oh dear, my body was damaged, but I live on back home and with all my friends. I guess sometimes bad things happen to good robots! My trip must come to an end for now, but my love for humans will never fade,” hitchBOT said in a message on its website.

The three-foot-tall, 25-pound robot could communicate vocally and was aware of its location thanks to an onboard GPS system. But it depended on finding rides to get around. It is part of a program at Ryerson University in Toronto to explore how people and robots interact and report the results on social media. For a long time, the signs were encouraging.

On its website, the university group running the program said hitchBOT previously made its way unscathed across Canada and Germany by soliciting rides on the side of the road. But they said the damage done to the robot during its planned trip from Boston to San Francisco caused them to abandon the effort.

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A spokeswoman from Ryerson University said in an email that members of the hitchBOT team are not available for comment today or Tuesday, and more information will be available on Aug. 5.


On the website, “the family” posted the following message:

“hitchBOT’s trip came to an end last night in Philadelphia after having spent a little over two weeks hitchhiking and visiting sites in Boston, Salem, Gloucester, Marblehead, and New York City. Unfortunately, hitchBOT was vandalized overnight in Philadelphia; sometimes bad things happen to good robots. We know that many of hitchBOT’s fans will be disappointed, but we want them to be assured that this great experiment is not over. For now we will focus on the question “what can be learned from this?” and explore future adventures for robots and humans.

“We have no interest in pressing charges or finding the people who vandalized hitchBOT; we wish to remember the good times, and we encourage hitchBOT’s friends and fans to do the same.”