An artist’s rendition of Hitchbot on the road
Seeing as self-driving cars won’t be a reality any time soon, robots need to find an alternate means of travel for the time being. Case in point, the HitchBOT, a tiny, rainboot-wearing robot who is by (you guessed it) hitchhiking the time-honored tradition of hitchhiking. Even so, he’s probably less eccentric than your average itinerant: With bright yellow Wellies strapped to his feet and a cake-saver helmet, HitchBOT has a bucket for a body and pool noodles for limbs and looks something like a child’s storybook or TV show… which is kind of the point.
The brainchild of Dr. Frauke Zeller of Ryerson University and Dr. David Harris Smith of McMaster University, the HitchBOT was designed to travel some 6,000+ km from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design to Victoria, British Columbia, by means of friendly strangers. He comes fully equipped with 3G, GPS, WiFi and solar panels, so the hitchBOT team can track and receive texts/photos highlighting the droid’s progress and deliver the updates to his quickly growing circle of fans. The robot will depend on the goodwill of travelers when he runs out of juice—once the energy from the solar panels is used up, all it takes is a simple connection to a car’s cigarette lighter to reboot.
The droid is pretty limited when it comes to mobility—his only moving part is his arm—but can sit thanks to a retractable tripod. A car seat is attached to his torso for easy buckling. HitchBOT can also speak English (along with a few sentences of French) and has access to Wikipedia for small talk topics. You could do worse when it comes to a road-trip buddy.