Tuesday, September 30, 2014

‘Hitchbot’ nearing journey’s end

KELOWNA, B.C.—The chatty, social-media-savvy robot that’s been thumbing rides with Canadians over the past three weeks is nearing the end of its Halifax-to-Victoria hitchhiking adventure.
Its creators say the last time it checked in early yesterday morning, “Hitchbot” was passing through Kelowna, B.C. on its way to the Open Space art centre on Vancouver Island.

“We were expecting the unexpected,” said the robot’s co-creator, David Smith, who teaches in the department of communication studies at McMaster University in Hamilton.
“But there’s no way that we could have expected the number of really memorable and significant events that Hitchbot participated in.”
Since its more than 6,000-km journey began in Nova Scotia on July 26, the Wellie-wearing robot has been camping in New Brunswick’s Kouchibouguac National Park, attended a First Nations’ pow-wow on Manitoulin Island in Ontario, and even crashed a wedding in Golden, B.C.
“Hitchbot” is an interdisciplinary research project conceived by a team of Ontario-based communications researchers studying the evolving relationship between people and technology.
“It’s been really, really exciting,” Smith said from his office in Hamilton.
“We’ve been actually really impressed and, in some cases, deeply-moved by people’s responses.”
“Hitchbot” has dipped its yellow Wellington boots in Lake Superior, taken in some musical performances in Kelowna, and even shaken its robo-booty to the “Harlem Shake” while passing through the Prairies.
Along the way, it has kept track of its adventures on social media, where tens of thousands of fans follow its Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram updates.

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