This robot is hitchhiking its way across Canada

As far as hitchhikers go, this one looks harmless enough. He or she — it’s hard to tell — is short and friendly, if a little fashion-challenged. Get him talking, however, and he won’t shut up. Meet hitchBOT, a talking, tweeting, bucket-bodied Canadian robot that’s hitchhiking west from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Victoria, British Columbia — a journey of nearly 4,000 miles. The robot employs artificial intelligence, speech recognition, social media and other tools to bum rides from motorists.

Hitchbot, the yellow glove- and Wellies-wearing robot, has started bumming rides across Canada, and by the looks of it, its hosts are having a blast ferrying it to its next drop-off point. The machine with a perpetual LED smile began its journey in Halifax, and it’ll travel 4,000 miles until it reaches Nova Scotia, British Columbia. People who pick up Hitchbot are pointed to a website where they can find instructions on how to handle it and where to drop it off. On the way, Hitchbot chats with its host, thanks to its speech recognition capability, or chatters away on its own in case its tablet-and-Arduino brain can’t parse what its companion’s saying. It also takes pictures every 30 minutes or so to send back to headquarters and upload to its social media accounts. When university researchers David Harris Smith and Frauke Zeller made Hitchbot, they wanted to know if robots can trust humans. Based on the photos people have been uploading on social media, the answer seems to be yes — for now. Hitchbot’s got a lot more ground to cover, including a boat trip to reach its final destination, so follow it onInstagram and Twitter to keep up with its adventures.

By Connor Livingston

+Connor Livingston is a tech blogger who will be launching his own site soon, Lythyum. He lives in Oceanside, California, and has never surfed in his life. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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