<div class="Article" style="float: left;"> <table> <tr style="vertical-align: bottom;"> <td> <h3><a href="/go=news.detail&gid=453214" target="_blank"> Robot will hitchhike across the US </a></h3> </td> </tr> </table> <a href="/go=news.detail&gid=453214" ><img class="photo" src="http://img.mixedmartialarts.com/method=get&rs=61&q=75&x=0&y=30&w=310&h=165&ro=0&s=robot-07-17-2015-12-15-30-791.jpg" /></a> <div style="clear: both; line-height: 1px;height: 1px;"> </div> </div> <blockquote>
The humanoid robot named hitchBOT has already caught rides across Canada and in Europe, relying on the kindness and curiosity of strangers. But on Friday it starts its first U.S. tour, setting out from Salem, Massachusetts, with dreams of San Francisco ahead.
Along the way, it hopes to see some quintessential American sites, including Times Square, Mount Rushmore and the Grand Canyon.
The kid-size robot is immobile on its own, so it gets from place to place by being schlepped around by strangers. Travelers can pass it off to others they meet, or leave it at a gas station or shop. They can just leave it seated on its kickstand with its thumb raised.
Ideally, the creators hope, drivers won't leave the bot along busy roads and will charge the battery when it runs low. Otherwise, there are no rules.
"We want to see what people do with this kind of technology when we leave it up to them," said Frauke Zeller, one of the creators and an assistant professor in professional communication at Toronto's Ryerson University. "It's an art project in the wild — it invites people to participate."
On the outside, hitchBOT looks like it's built for play rather than performance. It has a bucket for a body and bendy foam limbs capped by yellow gardening gloves and matching rubber boots. The whimsical attire is intentional, its makers said, to make it approachable and to deter potential thieves.
"It has a really low-tech look to it, something we dubbed the 'yard-sale aesthetic,'" said David Harris Smith, the other creator and an assistant professor in communication studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. "The head is actually an acrylic cake-saver."
Designed to be a talking travel companion, the robot can toss out factoids and carry limited conversation. It can be charming and cheeky, its makers said.
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