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Photo via hitchBOT
Photo via hitchBOT

A social experiment by Canadian researchers on whether robots can trust humans has come to a brief and brutal end this past weekend.

Hitchhiking robot hitchBOT, which has safely traveled Canada, Germany and the Netherlands, was put out of commission in Philadelphia, with its arms, head and the accompanying electronics ripped off.

So much for the City of Brotherly Love.

The robot’s makers told AP that they were sent a picture of the vandalized robot on Saturday but were unable to track its location due to its dead battery.

HitchBOT started its American journey in mid-July in Massachusetts, with a list of iconic sites to visit and a final destination goal of making it to San Francisco. And while hitchBOT reportedly attended a Red Sox game and went on a boat cruise, its cross-country journey was abruptly ended in Philly.

HitchBOT was the experiment of Dr. David Smith from McMaster University and Dr. Frauke Zeller of Ryerson University in Ontario, Canada, who were hoping to use its travels to document if robots could trust human behavior. The robot was geared up with a GPS system and a camera to randomly snap photos along the way.

The hitchBOT team posted this to the project’s site:

“We know that many of hitchBOT’s fans will be disappointed, but we want them to be assured that this great experiment is not over. For now we will focus on the question ‘what can be learned from this?’ and explore future adventures for robots and humans.”


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