Philadelphia Hitchhiking Robot: No word yet on whether vandals disabled the boat to dump the batteries. Philadelphia is a city that is trying. Philadelphia is also a city where good things can’t happen. For every non-Geno’s or Pats’ spectacular cheesesteak, sports fans throw snowballs at opposing players or boo everyone, including Santa Claus. This is why, as a resident of Philadelphia, I wasn’t the least bit surprised to see a story about a hitchhiking robot beheading.
HutchBOT was supposed to be a study of how humans would approach and interact with robots—an olive branch from an uncanny valley. Also, unsurprisingly, the Hitchbot made it across Canada unscathed, in Boston two weeks ago before embarking on its journey across the US with plans to arrive in San Francisco.
An olive branch from the uncanny valley
However, the robot’s fatal stop-off in Philly showed how humans and robots would interact in real America. The robot’s head will be decapitated, its limbs ripped off, and parts of it can be scratched.* Limbs and torsos have been recovered. The head is missing, probably somewhere in Fishtown.
Philadelphia has a lot of good things—amazing food, a world-class art museum, and a statue of Rocky at the foot of the art museum. But as we just learned, Philadelphia is not a robot-friendly city.
*- I don’t think this scraping thing happened but it wouldn’t surprise me. Signed, a resident of Philadelphia for four years.
Update 8/3: Now there’s some video of the jerkwad that destroyed HitchBOT that destroyed HitchBOT like a jerkwad. Originally posted on Snapchat by vlogger Jesse Valance, the disturbing footage of robot violence (via Paleofuture) is embedded below:
Update 8/4: Turns out the footage was fake. As Paleofuture reports, the footage was likely fabricated by YouTubers Jessie Valens and Ed Bassmaster, who may or may not have actually destroyed the bot. As local news stations have noted, there are no cameras that provide perspective on the alleged security footage. Yes, HitchBOT is dead, but it’s not like it went down.