Hitchhiking Robot

I was just browsing through news articles, and kept reading a bunch of stuff in the technology section when I came across an article discussing how a robot has made it halfway across the country by hitchhiking. The first thought I had is that this is not real. Real people struggle to hitchhike across the country when they have real personalities and things to offer for the ride. What does this robot have to offer that people are willing to pick it up and drive it cross country without hesitation.

The robot known as HitchBot has been tweeting and recording his travels around the country, and people who pick him up are shown instructions on how to deal with him and where to drop him off when they have reached a certain destination. I think part of the reason people are so willing to travel with a robot in their car is simply because of the need for people to have attention and maybe these people hope that they will get some publicity out of it. The question still remains though. Why would someone not be afraid of a robot getting into their car when they really have no idea who actually might control the robot.

Continuing on the fact that this robot tweets everywhere it goes, it intertwines the use of social media, once again, in everything that happens. Twitter and Facebook have been recurring themes in all robots in recent years. The focus seems to be on updating people on exactly what is happening, when it happens. While this is entertaining to see, at the same time, some people do not understand why so many updates are required. HitchBot tweets at every stop to let people know exactly where it is. That is a really cool advancement. People are also more likely to pick up HitchBot since they know it has been in other cars with other people before and there is an entirely written record of exactly where it has been and the things it has done. If people can design a robot that can make it across the country on its own, without really putting any work into it, how long will it be before a robot that can drive itself across the country and not rely on hitchhiking shows up.

Finally, the group of people that made this robot designed it to interact with people and show them how useful technology can be. People in the past have been really afraid of robots because they do not really know what to expect. This is one step in the right direction to show that robots might not really be all that scary. It gives people a way to communicate with technology in their own environment.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/01/tech/social-media/hitchhiking-robot-hitchbot/index.html?hpt=te_t1

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1 Comment

  1. Bringing into the concept we talked about in class of self-archiving, I agree that the fact that HitchBot uses social media to show he has been with other people validates that he is safe to be around. If he had no archive present on twitter or facebook, he would likely never get picked up for rides – 1 because people would be unsure of the purpose of the robot and 2 because people wouldn’t trust the robot to be legitimate. The creators of HitchBot knew that he needed to show he was safe and instead of writing a series of articles for different periodicals or trying to advertise with billboards – they chose the method of self archiving to showcase his intentions and bolster his popularity. It is astonishing how much of a difference self archiving can make.

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