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Canadian Hitchhiking Robot May Get New Lease on Life

  • VOA News

FILE- A car drives by HitchBOT, a hitchhiking robot in Marblehead, Massachusetts, July 17, 2015.

FILE- A car drives by HitchBOT, a hitchhiking robot in Marblehead, Massachusetts, July 17, 2015.

HitchBOT, the talkative Canadian hitchhiking robot that met an untimely demise at the hands of vandals in the United States, might get a new lease on life.

Its creators, Frauke Zeller and David Smith, say they have been overwhelmed with offers to help revive the robot since it was vandalized beyond repair during the weekend on the streets of Philadelphia, the northeastern U.S. city known as the "City of Brotherly Love."

It had already hitchhiked across parts of Canada, the Netherlands and Germany as part of an experiment to chronicle the interaction between humans and robots.

HitchBOT started its 4,800-kilometer U.S. journey in Boston, but only made it about 480 kilometers southwestward to Philadelphia before the vandals wrecked it and left it in pieces alongside a city street, to the disgust of many people there.

HitchBOT relied on the kindness of people to move it from city to city, striking up short conversations and answering trivia questions by consulting facts in its built-in computers. When it got tired, HitchBOT told its human friends it needed a rest, a recharging in their car's cellphone outlet.

The robot was assembled from $1,000 worth of household and hardware store odds and ends. It had a LED-lit smiley face in a transparent cake saver on top of a plastic beer pail and swimming pool noodles for limbs.

One Philadelphian said, "Bunch of crumbs, right? You do not do that. I mean, what did the robot do to anybody, I am saying?"

"Oh dear, my body was damaged," the robot wrote on its website. "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. Thank you to all my friends."

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