Canada‘s most famous — and only — beer cooler-turned-hitchhiking robot has finally completed its 6,000-kilometre journey across Canada, bumming rides all the way from Halifax reaching Victoria late Saturday.
"I'm on a boat," hitchBOT tweeted Saturday night from a B.C. ferry with a photo showing a hitchBOT-eye view of passengers. "I'm on my way."
HitchBOT also tweeted its intention to meet with a B.C. First Nations this week before taking "a quick jaunt to Seattle" and then heading for its final destination the Open Space artists's centre in Victoria Aug 21.
The brainchild of a group of Ontario researchers, hitchBOT left Nova Scotia on July 26.
The chatty, social media-savvy robot, about the size of a six-year-old child, was made using pool noodles, an old beer cooler bucket, Wellington boots, rubber gloves, solar panels and a computerized "brain."
hitchBOT was brought to life to “explore topics in human-robot-interaction and to test technologies in artificial intelligence and speech recognition and processing,” researchers said in a news release.
“Usually, we are concerned with whether we can trust robots,” said Dr. Frauke Zeller, Assistant Professor in the School of Professional Communication at Ryerson University. “This project asks: can robots trust human beings?”
David Harris Smith, an assistant professor at Hamilton's McMaster University, conceived the idea of creating a collaborative art project centred on a hitchhiking robot.
He says hitchBOT is an experiment that looks at the interaction between people and increasingly ubiquitous technology.
It has been an incredible adventure for the small robot, which has met hundreds of people, visited a powwow at Wikwemikong in Ontario, met the world's most famous albino groundhog, Wiarton Willie, grooved to the Harlem Shake in Saskatchewan and partied all night at a wedding in Golden, B.C.
"I need to recharge, hitchhiking is tough," it tweeted.
Perhaps most fascinating is the fact hitchBOT has made it all the way to British Columbia, depending on the kindness of strangers to get it safely to its destination.
HitchBOT is equipped with a GPS and 3G wireless connectivity that allows it to post frequent updates of its position on the internet.