Paul Darrow/Reuters

It crossed Canada and made it to Europe, but things took a turn in the U.S.

Farewell, sweet robot—you were too innocent for the savage roads of the U.S.A.

HitchBOT, a trashcan-shaped bot whose mission was to hitchhike around the world, has met its untimely end in Philadelphia. Canadian researchers made the mechanical freeloader as a social experiment to see how far drivers would carry it. The robot had crossed Canada on a 6,200-mile-plus trip, and traveled around Europe to crash a wedding in Germany, before meeting grave misfortune on America’s East Coast.

It was hardly two weeks after hitchBOT began in Marblehead, Massachusetts, that somebody in Philly pulled out its arms, knocked off its head, and threw the mangled body in a pile of trash and leaves. A CBS editor posted this image of the delimbed bot Saturday:

The pointless destruction has people alternately hating Philadelphia and mocking hitchBOT for even attempting the journey:

The dudes who built hitchBOT sound bummed, but in a statement say they won’t pursue criminal action as they “wish to remember the good times.” Here’s more:

I guess sometimes bad things happen to good robots! My trip must come to an end for now, but my love for humans will never fade….

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.

hitchBOT in happier days on a beach in Ontario. (Kenneth Armstrong/Reuters)

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo collage of 2020 presidential candidates.
    Equity

    Will Housing Swing the 2020 Election?

    Among Democratic candidates for president, the politics of America’s housing affordability crisis are getting complicated. Just wait until Trump barges in.

  2. A person tapes an eviction notice to the door of an apartment.
    Equity

    Why Landlords File for Eviction (Hint: It’s Usually Not to Evict)

    Most of the time, a new study finds, landlords file for eviction because it tilts the power dynamic in their favor—not because they want to eject their tenants.

  3. A photo of an abandoned building in Newark, New Jersey.
    Equity

    The 10 Cities Getting a Philanthropic Boost for Economic Mobility

    An initiative funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Ballmer Group focuses on building “pipelines of opportunity.”

  4. A cat lays flat on a bench at a park on the outskirts of Tokyo.
    Life

    Why Don't Americans Use Their Parks at Night?

    Most cities aren’t fond of letting people use parks after dark. But there are good lifestyle, environmental, and safety reasons to reconsider.

  5. A rendering of a co-living building in San Jose.
    Life

    The Largest Co-Living Building in the World Is Coming to San Jose

    The startup Starcity plans to build an 800-unit, 18-story “dorm for adults” to help affordably house Silicon Valley’s booming workforce.

×