Summer social experiment

You are driving down the highway when you see two figures moving along the side of the road.

You are driving down the highway when you see two figures moving along the side of the road.

As you approach, they stick out their thumbs, signaling their request for a ride.

Do you stop and pick them up? Or keep driving?

Many drivers are uneasy about picking up hitchhikers. Most police officers would also recommend against offering rides to strangers on the side of the road as well as using hitchhiking as a mode of transportation.

However, hitchhikers are still a common site along roadsides in the summer and we know they do manage to get from one point to another somehow.

In a joint project, McMaster and Ryerson Universities have collaborated to build a hitchhiking robot which they hope can hitchhike across the country this summer in an experiment to see how willing Canadians are to help travelers explore the country, at least the robotic kind.

Going by the released renderings of Hitchbot, the machine won’t look like much from the outside.

Hitchbot’s body consists of a bucket, has simple rods for legs, arms that can signal for a ride (his only moveable parts) and a cake saver for a head.

Inside however, there is some sophisticated technology that allows Hitchbot to see, speak and report its location to his creators.

When plugged into the auxiliary power in a vehicle after it has been picked up, a microphone and speaker allow Hitchbot to recognize (or at least attempt to recognize) speech and respond using a Wikipedia database and dialogue written by Hitchbot’s creators.

3G network capabilities and GPS will allow Hitchbot’s location to be tracked as he travels across Canada.

This social experiment puts a great deal of faith into the community as well. It trusts that those who will pick up the robot will not damage or steal it.

However, if Hitchbot is destroyed or goes missing, ‘sibling robots’ are standing by to step in and complete the experiment.

It will be interesting to see how willing Canadians are to help Hitchbot complete its journey.

While the teams from McMaster and Ryerson will be able to track and even communicate with the robot, Hitchbot will be entirely reliant on the kindness of others to complete its journey.

Hitchbot will begin its journey on July 27th, starting at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.

If all goes according to plan, Hitchbot will then enjoy a series of rides across the country to reach its destination, the Open Space Gallery in Victoria.


Just Posted

Member Terry Parsons’ custom built track vehicle.
Forestburg’s Area 53 Racetrack gears up for action-packed season

Site will also host a portion of the ‘Miles of Mayhem’ event in July

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported five additional deaths Wednesday due to COVID-19. (File photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Red Deer at 169 active cases of COVID-19

Province set to move into Stage 2 of reopening Thursday

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Airport ground crew offload a plane carrying just under 300,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine which is developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
1st batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines won’t be released in Canada over quality concerns

The vaccines were quarantined in April before they were distributed to provinces

Grade 12 students at Wetaskiwin Composite High School took place in the annual water fight off school property on June 11, 2021. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
Graduating students in Wetaskiwin throw water fight after being told it could result in suspension

Students were told their participation could result in them being barred from graduation ceremonies.

The arrest south of Winnipeg occurred before Bernier was to arrive at a protest in the city. (Twitter/Maxime Bernier)
Maxime Bernier arrested following anti-rules rallies in Manitoba: RCMP

He’s been charged with exceeding public gathering limits and violating Manitoba’s requirement to self-isolate

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives for the G7 Summit, at the airport in Newquay, United Kingdom, Thursday, June 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Details on Canada’s vaccine sharing plan coming Sunday, up to 100 million doses

Canada’s high commissioner to the UK says details will come after the G7 summit

Conservative MP Tom Kmiec waves to the crowd during the Calgary Stampede parade in Calgary, Friday, July 8, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Newborn daughter’s death inspires MP’s bill on bereavement leave for parents

Conservative MP Tom Kmiec says a day or two off not enough for some grieving parents

Victoria’s 2020 Canada Day celebration will not happen this year. (Black Press Media file photo)
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations backs cancelling Canada Day celebration

Statement made after Victoria cancels Canada Day event as a statement of reconciliation

United Nurses of Alberta is slamming Health Minister Tyler Shandro for suggesting staff vacations are causing emergency room problems. (Black Press Media files)
Physicians were suffering burnout and then the pandemic made it worse, UBC study finds

Burnout prevalent among 68 per cent of doctors – likely a reflection of issue globally, says researcher

Most Read