A hitchhiking robot designed to test human-robot interaction has finished a cross-Canada trip and has been reunited with its family.
Travelling 6,000km across the North American country, hitchBot made it from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Victoria, British Columbia in less than a month.
Although its creators had originally been concerned whether the humanoid robot will survive the trip without falling victim to vandalism, the project was met with extremely positive public reception and support.
Fans were following the tweeting robot’s adventures on its website, Facebook page and Twitter, while drivers looked out for it while travelling along its planned route.
On Thursday 21 August, the robot’s arrival was celebrated in Victoria’s Open Space Arts Society where it reunited with its family, which includes its creators David Harris Smith, assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies and Multimedia at McMaster University, and Frauke Zeller, assistant professor in the School of Professional Communication at Ryerson University.
The robot encountered some problems along the way with its speech software, making him a quieter companion for the drivers than expected. The robot was originally programmed to engage in friendly conversations with its benefactors, chatting about its personal history and family.
The project was designed to study human robot interaction and to test artificial intelligence technologies and speech recognition and processing.