HitchBOT the hitch-hiking robot - famous for its cross-Canada trip last year - has been found with its head and limbs severed just two weeks into its first US adventure.
The immobile but communicative robot, which had to rely on humans to lift it into their cars and unload it at places where it could be spotted by other drivers, was vandalised beyond repair in Philadelphia.
The creature, designed by researchers from Ryerson University in Toronto and McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, was part of a social experiment assessing how humans relate to robots. While last year hitchBOT survived a 6,000km trip across Canada unharmed and received much media attention, the trans-US journey from Salem to San Francisco proved fatal.
The team behind the experiment said they are looking to understand what lessons can be learned from hitchBOT’s misfortune.
“We have no interest in pressing charges or finding the people who vandalised hitchBOT,” the team said in a statement. “We wish to remember the good times and we encourage hitchBOT’s friends and fans to do the same.”
During the two weeks in the US, the solar-powered hitchBOT was seen in Boston, Gloucester, Marblehead and New York City. Earlier this year, the robot also spent a short time hitch-hiking in Germany.
The GPS-fitted robot was able to engage in simple conversations on various topics with people and was sharing updates from its adventures on social media, including snaps captured by its inbuilt camera
It set off for its final trip from Salem on 17 July with a sign ‘San Francisco or bust’ taped to its forehead.