Would you pick up a hitchhiking robot?

Jun 18, 2014

The HitchBOT will be hitchhiking its way through Canada this summer. Courtesy of Twitter.

This summer,  hitchBot will travel across Canada in stranger’s cars. The little robot has its thumb permanently out, asking for a ride.

Armed with a programmed vocabulary and a pair of sturdy rainboots to protect itself against the weather, hitchBot will tell those who pick it up for a ride its story and mission. Humans are increasingly connected to technology — already there are stories about people who name their Roombas and soldiers who grow attached to bomb-detecting robots.

The question of whether humans can trust robots is an underlying factor as technology becomes “smarter” and more autonomous. But hitchBot’s co-creators, David Harris Smith and Frauke Zeller, turn that question on its head to ask whether robots can trust humans.


David Harris Smith, assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies at McMaster University

Frauke Zeller, assistant professor in the School of Professional Communication at Ryerson University

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