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HitchBOT 2016: The Hitchhiking Robot's Creators Want to Do America Again

See you again, space cowboy…

by Clinton Nguyen
Aug 5 2015, 6:00pm

Image: Hitchbot

HitchBOT, the beloved and fashionably-booted hitchhiking Canadian robot, met its untimely end in Philadelphia this past Saturday. But the team behind it is thinking of bringing the robot back for next year.

"Among the options being explored are rebuilding the robot and having it continue its journey from Philadelphia in 2016," Alexandra Pavliuc, a Ryerson University student working on the HitchBOT team, told me in an email.

The team is also thinking of making a hitchBOT that'll travel around to schools around America, allowing students to "devise robotic adventures" as it hitches from one school to the next. It'll be one way to give the little guy some occasional safe havens across America, where some people apparently find joy in ripping off robot limbs and ruining things for everyone else.

The robot was originally scheduled to hitchhike to various American cities and tourist attractions, starting from Salem to San Francisco, and it made it to Times Square before disappearing in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. But some of the city's inhabitants are quick to jump to support.

"All the support has really gotten the [hitchBOT] team past the last few days," Georgia Guthrie, the director of Philadelphia-based hacking collective the Hackery, told me.

Guthrie tells me that she was contacted by David Harris Smith, one of the researchers behind hitchBOT. He thanked her for showing interest in helping rebuild the robot, and while they didn't quite tell her what their next plans were, she's still inviting people to hack nights where people can build software and hardware out of the scope of their daily work.

"We're out to show that Philly really loves robots and that we're not just out to get them," Guthrie said.

There was also a brief Kickstarter campaign to rebuild the bot that raised over $4,000, but it was been cancelled on on the request of the robot's creators.

"While we're grateful there are so many people excited about the project and willing to help us at this time, we have not started or committed to any of the crowdfunding or kickstarter campaigns," Pavliuc told me.

"Though hitchBOT's trip ended abruptly on August 1, 2015, its love for humans will never fade. hitchBOT's family is asking everyone to show their love by sharing circuit-warming stories about the hitchhiking robot," the hitchBOT team added in a statement today.

We'll be given a few more shots. Let's not blow this, America.

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