Ottawa, December 15, 2015 — The Canada Science and Technology Museum is excited to announce that it has acquired Canada’s beloved hitchhiking robot, hitchBOT. The original hitchBOT will join the Museum’s communications and computing collection.
This friendly wellington-wearing robot, with a bucket for a body and a cake saver for a head, was developed in Port Credit, Ontario, by Dr David Harris Smith (McMaster University) and Dr Frauke Zeller (Ryerson University). hitchBOT has been described by its creators as a free-spirited robot with a passion for exploring and meeting new people.
On July 27, 2014, hitchBOT began its journey in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and in just 26 days travelled over 10,000 kilometres, hitching 19 rides, to successfully complete its journey to Victoria, British Columbia, on August 21, 2014.
In 2015, a second hitchBOT was produced for subsequent trips to Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States. Unfortunately, this version met an untimely end in Philadelphia last August; however, the original hitchBOT — covered in signatures and well wishes from the 2014 cross-Canada voyage — remains intact and is now under the Museum’s care.
“This is an exciting moment for all of us,” said Tom Everrett, curator of communications technology at the Museum. “hitchBOT not only represents an interesting chapter in the history of human–machine interaction, but also tells a story of cross-country travel and community to which all Canadians can relate.”
hitchBOT uses artificial intelligence, speech technology, and robotic gestures (lights and hand motions) to interact with human companions. During its travels, hitchBOT was highly active on social media, and continues to be, boasting over 63,000 followers on Twitter, 25,000 followers on Instagram, and more than 100,000 page likes on Facebook. Plans for the original hitchBOT for 2016 are still in the works — stay tuned!