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Hitchhiking Robot Embarks on Cross-Country Trek From Halifax to Victoria

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Canadian researchers created a talking robot that is hitchiking cross-country.

Hitchbot is a talking robot made from parts "usually found in a basement or hardware store" that is hitchhiking its way across Canada.

Credit: CTV News

Researchers at Canada's Ryerson and McMaster universities have developed Hitchbot, a social-media-savvy robot that is hitchhiking its way from Halifax to Victoria.

The talking robot is an interdisciplinary research project aimed at studying the changing relationship between people and technology. "Our society depends more and more on robots and we need to know more about our relationship to that kind of technology," says Ryerson professor Frauke Zeller.

Hitchbot consists of spare parts usually found in a basement or hardware store. Despite its simple design, Hitchbot uses voice-recognition technology to reference Wikipedia and it is programmed to document its trip through social media using onboard Global-Positioning Systems.

"Hitchbot really sits right in the middle of those interesting discussions about what are our future relationships with robots and what kind of cultural mood are we engaged in currently in terms of our sense of adventure and our wariness or not of strangers," says McMaster professor David Smith.

He says the public's response has been very positive. "It's a whimsical project," Smith says. "It's adventure by proxy, is how I would describe it."

From Canadian Press
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