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August 02, 2015

Hitchhiking robot meets demise in Philadelphia

Cross-country experiment ends after robot vandalized in Philly

A robot that was hitchhiking across the United States ended its journey Saturday when it was destroyed in Philadelphia. 

The Associated Press reports that the human-shaped android hitchBOT was designed by Canadian researchers for an experiment. The robot, which can't move on its own, was relying on strangers to help it out and keep it traveling to its final destination: The Exploratorium in San Fransisco. 

Attached to the robot, which had successfully made its way across Canada in a previous trip, was a bucket list of items to complete, which included going to Las Vegas and hearing jazz music in New Orleans. Also on hitchBOT's head was a sign reading, "San Fransisco or bust!"

A GPS map tracked the robot's movements. Dropped off in Massachusetts on July 17 to begin its journey, hitchBOT had successfully made its way down the East Coast. That is until it got to Philadelphia. 

Popular Philadelphia Youtube blogger and prankster Jesse Wellens picked up the robot in the city Friday night.

After taking hitchBOT on a trip through Old City, Wellens dropped it off at Elfreth's Alley. Sometime after that, the robot was vandalized and destroyed. 

On hitchBOT's website, the creators confirmed the robot's untimely demise in Philadelphia: 

hitchBOT’s trip came to an end last night in Philadelphia after having spent a little over two weeks hitchhiking and visiting sites in Boston, Salem, Gloucester, Marblehead, and New York City. Unfortunately, hitchBOT was vandalized overnight in Philadelphia; sometimes bad things happen to good robots.  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.

There's no word yet on who destroyed the robot. However considering the robot has more than 43,000 followers on Twitter, there are sure to be some angry fans if they're ever revealed. 

In the meantime, Philadelphians can do their part to help repair hitchBOT (and our city's image) by contributing to a Kickstarter campaign already launched to fund the rebuild.