Tag Archives: hitchBOT

This adorable robot is hitchhiking its way across the U.S.


Thumbs up! hitchBOT is making its way from Massachusetts to California this summer.


After enjoying its previous adventures through both Canada and Europe relying solely on the kindness and curiosity of strangers to help get from place to place, the friendly hitchhiking robot known as hitchBOT is back. This time it will be making its way across the United States — starting in Salem, Massachusetts and finishing at the Exploratorium in San Francisco.

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Though hitchBOT has no set route or idea as to how long it will take to reach California, its creators David Harris Smith and Frauke Zeller hope that Americans will take it to see some of its most memorable landmarks and attractions. Among the places on the humanoid’s bucket list are Times Square in New York, Disney World in Florida, Millennium Park in Illinois, Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

The child-sized bot features a bucket for a torso, blue swimming pool noodles for its limbs, yellow rubber gloves for its hitchhiking hands (with one thumb permanently pointed upwards, of course), an LED face housed inside an acrylic cake saver with a “San Francisco or bust” sign wrapped around its head, along with speech recognition software and even its own 3G/Wi-Fi network that it uses to offer tidbits of local information it picks up along the way. This allows it to engage in limited conversation, send tweets and engage in a game or two of trivia. In fact, the Atmel based device is programmed to explain itself to those who decide to pick it up, and can ask to be plugged in to a car’s cigarette lighter to keep its battery charged.

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hitchBOT is embedded with a simple tablet, an Arduino board and GPS tasked with tracking its location. Aside from that, a camera randomly snaps photos about every 20 minutes to document its travels, which it wirelessly sends to its creators and its social media accounts. Together, all the parts cost about $1,000; however, the experience of picking up this friendly robot… priceless.

With more than 38,000 people following the robot on Twitter and hundreds of others already having posted their own selfies with it, hitchBOT is quite popular. Throughout its journey, researchers are collecting data from social media to study how people interact with a robot that require their help, the opposite of more conventional robots that are designed to assist them.

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If you’re lucky enough to come across the friendly fellow this summer, don’t hesitate in picking it up and asking a few questions. Otherwise, for the rest of us, head over to its official page to stay updated with its cross-country trip.

hitchBOT kicks off its German adventure


The friendly hitchhiking robot is back. This time it’s headed for the Autobahn.


After completing its three-week, 3,700-miles trek across Canada last summer, the hitchhiking robot named hitchBOT has returned. This time it’s headed for the autobahn. The friendly device, which relies entirely on the kindness of strangers and its tablet-and-Arduino brains, has kicked off its latest 10-day adventure through Germany.

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hitchBOT is outfitted with a rubber hitchhiking hand, speech recognition software, and even its own Wi-Fi network that it uses to offer regionally-specific tidbits of information that it picks up along the way. This allows it to engage in conversation, send tweets and even engage in a game of trivia. In fact, the Atmel based device is programmed to explain itself to those who decide to pick it up, and can ask to be plugged in to keep its battery charged. While its German skills are a bit limited, it does know enough to get by and can share a conversation around his hobbies — these include soccer, hockey, baking and riding.

Every 30 minutes or so, hitchBOT snaps and sends a photo to headquarters and its social media accounts via its built-in wireless connectivity. Meanwhile, an on-board GPS allows for the public to track its travels. During the German journey, it will will take to the throne room in Neuschwanstein, and while in Cologne, will hitch a ride on the Rose Monday train. Then, the Canadian embassy will officially welcome the bot to Berlin at the city’s Brandenburg Gate.

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Powered by a simple tablet and Arduino, the friendly robot has a bucket for a torso, blue swimming-pool noodles for limbs and a smiling LED panel for a face, which is protected by a cake saver. It wears yellow gloves on its hands and rubber boots on its feet. Together, all the parts cost about $1,000; however, the experience of picking up this friendly robot… priceless.

As for the overall objective behind the project, its creators David Harris Smith and Frauke Zeller are aspiring to promote human interaction with robots. Following hitchBOT’s tour, the Makers will analyze data to determine where the robot was more welcome: Canada or Germany.

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Interested in learning more? You can follow along with hitchBOT’s travels here.

Hitchhiking robot finishes cross-Canada trip

Three weeks and 3,700 miles later, the hitchhiking-robot appropriately named hitchBOT has completed its journey through Canada, having relied entirely on the kindness of strangers and its tablet-and-Arduino brains. The robot’s adventure, which began in Halifax on July 27, ended in Victoria on Saturday.

Despite the journey having taken only 21 days, it has been exhausting expedition, even for a robot. hitchBOT sustained minor injuries including a cracked LED shield protector, and its speech is “a little bit more random than it was at the start of the trip.” Nevertheless, Smith notes, the team was elated to report the robot’s journey went off without any problems and it even made countless friends along the way.

“I’m on a boat,” hitchBOT tweeted Saturday night from a British Columbia ferry with a photo showing some fellow passengers. “I’m on my way,” he shared with followers.

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“We’re elated. It’s been really great fun and to me it seems like it [has] brought people together in a really interesting way,” explained co-creator David Smith, a professor at McMaster University.

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The initial goal of the project, as explained by its creators in a recent news release, was to test how comfortable humans are when traveling with robots, while also seeing how a robot would react to an unpredictable situation. Every 30 minutes or so, hitchBot would snap and send a photo to headquarters and its social media accounts via its 3G wireless connectivity. Based on the photos people have been tweeting and sharing on social media, it appears a vast majority of public have grown to love the adorable fellow. To make picking up hitchBot a bit easier, the gadget came equipped with a car seat attached to its torso so it can be easily strapped to cars and a GPS system so that researchers can track its travels. In addition, it has speech recognition software and can answer simple questions.

Anne Saulnier watches as her husband Brian buckles up the anthropomorphic robot named hitchBOT near Halifax

Trekking coast-to-coast can be a daunting task, and certainly energy draining to say the least. When hitchBOT was running low on battery, it would ask its driver to plug it into an outlet or cigarette lighter within the car. As previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, the hitchhiking gizmo merely consisted of a tablet and Atmel based electronics for a brain, a bucket for a torso, blue swimming-pool noodles for limbs, and a smiling LED panel for a face, which was protected by a cake saver. It wore yellow gloves on its hands and rubber boots on its feet. Together, all the parts set the Makers back only about $1,000; however, the experience of picking up this friendly robot… priceless.

So what’s next for the two-foot-tall bot? Well, unfortunately, robots can’t get driver’s licenses… yet.

A hitchhiker you may want to pick up…

This summer, hitchBOT is planning on hitchhiking across Canada without a chaperone. The robot designed by David Smith and Frauke Zeller is on a 3,700-mile quest to successfully catch free rides from Halifax to Victoria.

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According to Popular Mechanics, the friendly hitchBOT comes outfitted with a rubber hitchhiking hand, speech recognition software, and even its own Wi-Fi network. Those who pick of the traveling gadget can challenge it to trivia, send the robot tweets, and even recharge his batteries.

Powered by a simple tablet and Arduino, hitchBOT has a bucket for a torso, blue swimming-pool noodles for arms and legs and a smiling LED panel for a face, protected by a cake saver. It wears yellow gloves on its hands and rubber boots on its feet. Together, all the parts cost about $1,000; however, the experience of picking up this friendly robot… priceless.

In an interview with Canadian outlet, GlobalNews, the robot’s “family” says that hitchBot’s welcoming exterior was created from a bucket and some pool noodles. But don’t let his low-tech shell fool you, hitchBOT has some serious tech inside. He has Wikipedia’s API built-in to his interface to allow for the processing of world knowledge, as well as boasts 3G and wireless capabilities for his social media needs.

HitchBot has already become quite the social media phenomenon in Canada gaining nearly 19,000 Twitter followers and over 6,500 on Instragram. This social presence is exactly what the creators were aiming for as David Smith notes, “This is an emergent piece of cultural theatre and artwork that’s meant to reframe our thinking about how we adopt and integrate technologies into our social and culture life.”

To follow along with hitchBOT’s journey, you can check its up-to-date location on the project’s official page.