Did you ever wish you had someone to share your ride with you while travelling? Bored? Having no one to talk to? Well then, this little creature with noodle arms and legs, rubber glove hands, and rain boots for feet is your answer. If you see him on the streets in Canada trying to hitch a ride, sit him in your car and have the ride of your life. This little hitchhiker is a small, smiling robot with a knack for good conversation.
His name is hitchBOT, a robot created by a university professor and a team of researchers. This robot is going to rely on the kindness of strangers to get him from Halifax to Victoria. His only other goal is to make some friends along the way.
The creators, David Harris Smith and Frauke Zeller came up with this brainchild to be able to learn more about the interaction between humans and robots. HitchBOT doesn’t have a very fashionable appearance but your heart will go out to him when you see his million dollar LED smile. The robots’ power source comes from solar panels that make up the exterior of his body. While he is waiting for his next ride he soaks up the rays. While he is in the car going to his next destination there is a power adapter to keep his juices running. HitchBOT has access to Wikipedia so while he’s sitting with you, chatting away about world trivia, you can also have an interesting conversation on various topics. He can pleasantly discuss about how he was created, the history of his journey, and perhaps even the weather conditions for the day. The robot also has a camera that also audio, speech recognition technology and 3G and Wi-Fi capabilities.
HitchBOT is about the size of a six year old. He comes with a car seat like contraption so that he can be strapped into the car. Those who pick him up can plug him into the cigarette lighter in their car and it will start talking to them. According to the creators this project hitchBOT is meant to change how we think about integration and social and cultural life. People can talk to the robot on a variety of topics. The only concern regarding this project and applying it in the outside world was trusting a stranger who would be giving hitchBOT a ride, the question is can robots actually trust human beings? There is a rising concern about someone wanted to harm the robot. In case hitchBOT experiences any operational difficulties there are instructions on its side to explain the mission it’s on.
Even though the cardinal rule of the road is “Don’t pick up hitchhikers!” but this is one hitchhiker you want by your side. The creators’ only advice to hitchBOT is “be safe and try not to get knocked over”.