After traveling across Canada and parts of Europe, the famous hitchhiking robot experiment known as hitchBOT has come to a grizzly end in Philadelphia, where unknown vandals destroyed the defenseless experiment that relied on the kindness of strangers.
The Canadian researchers who created hitchBOT and the experiment driving its trek told the Associated Press that the robot was vandalized in the early hours of Saturday morning somewhere in “The City of Brotherly Love.” As Frauke Zeller, one of the researchers, put it, “sadly it’s come to an end.”
Oh dear, my body was damaged, but I live on with all my friends. Sometimes bad things happen to good robots! #hitchBOTinUSA
— hitchBOT (@hitchBOT) August 1, 2015
A photo of the robot’s vandalized remains was snapped and sent to the researchers. CBS Boston got their hands on the photo and released it to the public:
On Sunday, BuzzFeed Canada spoke to Zeller and fellow researcher David Harris Smith of Ryerson and McMaster Universities respectively:
“We are still trying to make sense of everything that happened, and are tying to put together the bits of information that we can find,” Zeller said.
They said the last signal came from hitchBOT early Saturday morning. That’s when they suspect the robot was “vandalized,” as they put it.
Meanwhile, the last known decent human being to come into contact with hitchBOT was famous YouTube prankster and vlogger Jesse Wellens. Check out the clip below, beginning at the 9:02 mark:
After treating the robot to some good times in Philadelphia, Wellens left the robot on a bench in the historical Elfreth’s Alley on Friday night:
Dropping the Robot at Elfreths Ally. Waiting for one of you peeps to pick it up.
— Jesse Wellens (@Jessewelle) August 1, 2015
When Wellens learned that hitchBOT had been destroyed, he vowed to help the researchers find out who the responsible parties were:
I’m going to see if I can get the security footage from where @hitchBOT got killed.
— Jesse Wellens (@Jessewelle) August 2, 2015
No word yet on whether or not Wellens found anything in the footage, or if the researchers have learned anything knew regarding hitchBOT’s destruction at the hands of its American hosts.
Watch the report from NBC below:
Also, watch the report from the CBC, below:
UPDATE–4:50 p.m. EST: Wellens found security camera footage of an unidentified man in a sports jersey kicking hitchBOT repeatedly. He broadcast the footage on Snapchat, and one of his users later shared it on Twitter:
— nick (@FaZeRainCan720) August 3, 2015
UPDATE–8:18 a.m. EST: Looks like Wellens and fellow prankster Always Teste made fools of us all on Tuesday. That’s because the “surveillance footage” they discovered and released to the news… was just another prank:
However, the hitchhiking robot is still dead.
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