It seems we have finally begun to enter some early phase of critical mass on robotic enterprises. Robots are being developed to do all sorts of things, from manufacturing to social companionship.
And here’s a new one: a robot is hitchhiking across America in real time, right now.
The US is not the first of hitchBOT’s adventures. It’s already crossed Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands. This time, well, I’ll just quote hitchBOT, from its web site:
“On July 17, 2015, I am shining my wellies to start my hitchhiking adventure across the USA. My journey begins at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, Massachusetts. From there, I hope to complete items from my hitchhiking bucket list with the help of strangers. My final destination is the Exploratorium in San Francisco, California. Only time will tell how long my journey will take me. I cannot wait to make new friends along the way.”
The experiment here, I gather, is about humans as much as it is about robots. Sure, hitchBOT will travel, take photos, and post to social media, but the crux of it all involves interaction and trust with humans. As with robot servants, companions or employees, close human-machine symbiosis is perhaps the biggest key to a harmonious man-machine future.
And please, if you see hitchBOT on the side of the road, be a good human and give it a ride.