This summer has brought us one step closer to the technological apocalypse — a robot just successfully hitchhiked all the way across Canada, from Nova Scotia to British Columbia.
Created to study how people interact with robots, hitchBOT was outfitted with speech recognition software and equipped with legs and arms, one of which was permanently fixed in a hitchhike position. Links to Wikipedia and social media enabled it to make small talk with the humans who drove it westward.
On the 3,700-mile journey, the gregarious robot fished, camped, and attended a wedding, where it interrupted the bride’s speech by saying, “I like to make friends.”
“This project turns our fear of technology on its head and asks, ‘Can robots trust humans?’,” said Frauke Zeller, a computational philologist at Ryerson University. “Our aim is to further discussion in society about our relationship with technology and robots.”
08/29/2020 UPDATE: The answer to “Can robots trust humans?” is no: When hitchBOT tried to cross the United States in 2015, it was stripped and decapitated in Philadelphia. (Thanks, Vadas.)