By now you've probably heard about hitchBOT, the likeable little humanoid high-tech hitchhiker with grand travel plans.
Thanks to the kindness of human strangers, hitchBOT has thumbed his way across Europe and Canada safely, and is now attempting to hitch from Salem, Massachusetts to San Francisco, with dreams — do robots dream? — of visiting Mount Rushmore, Times Square and the Grand Canyon.
Hey, even robots have bucket lists.
So far he has spent a week with a heavy metal band, attended a wedding, had his portrait painted, and attended a comic convention.
HitchBOT is the creation of a joint partnership between Ryerson and McMaster universities’ communications departments. Professors wanted to see how people might interact with harmless and vulnerable technology when left to its own devices.
With a bucket-like body and foam limbs clad in yellow gardening gloves and matching rubber boots, hitchBOT is hardly imposing. He can carry on limited, if not cheeky, conversations, snaps pictures every 20 minutes or so, and has GPS tracking installed. His head is an acrylic cake-saver.
So far, those who have picked him up have kept the little guy safe and sound, changed his batteries when needed, and left him in secure places to be picked up by the next stranger.
Inuktun’s robots aren’t all that different from hitchBOT. Though you likely won’t see a MicroMag™ or Versatrax 150™ hitching a ride on the side of the road, they too have grand plans.
Our robots are designed to be taken deep underwater, into nuclear reactor vessels, or as far as two kilometres into a sewer pipe, helping to keep infrastructure safe and sound to prevent injuries and protect our environment. Like hitchBOT, Inuktun’s inspection robots also rely on being looked after by humans, and share that emerging relationship between artificial intelligence and human emotions. Essentially, robots everywhere provide a gauge for us humans, and our respect for technology.
So, if you have an opportunity to give hitchBOT a ride along his journey, be sure to pass on our regards. And if you see an Inuktun robot just about anywhere — hard at work or recharging between shifts — why not snap a photo of your #InuktunInTheWild sighting, and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org? We'll be pleased to feature it here.
Unless, that is, your Inuktun robot is to be found by the roadside, thumbing a lift… In that case, you may want to give our engineers a call — while you start reeling!