Robotics Research: hitchBOT Inventor visits Macromedia

Our Berlin Campus had the pleasure of welcoming Prof. David Harris Smith, from McMaster University, to speak about his work on hitchBOT. Smith, in tandem with Dr. Frauke Zeller, from Ryerson University, Toronto, started the project back in 2013. By invitation of our own Prof. Dr. Gernot Wolfram, our students on the Berlin Campus had the opportunity to listen to Smith share his experience working on the project.

HitchBot is an autonomous robot originally created in Canada – predominately – to analyze the relationships between humans and autonomous technology. The small ‘garden chic’ robot, as described by hitchBOT’s creators, made its way across Canada via hitchhiking in 2014. The child-size, immobile hitchBOT, gained a massive following on social media and large coverage from the press. It even traveled to Europe. Unfortunately, the kindness of strangers ran out and hitchBOT met a fateful end in 2015 when it was found destroyed in the streets of Philadelphia, MA, USA. 

A milestone in robot-human relationships

The project is considered a milestone in robot-human relationships within social sciences. The team was about to gather invaluable data on the interactions hitchBOT had while traveling, as well as gain a deeper understanding of human empathy for anthropomorphic objects.

For Macromedia’s Prof. Dr. Gernot Wolfram the hitchBOT’s artistic roots are particularly exciting. “Perception and emotion are always a part of a kind of social sculpture in artistically based robots.”

Professor and lecturer Helmut Kuhn also aided in facilitating the event.

Click here for further information about the study programmes Media and Communication Management (B.A.), International Management (B.A.), Film Directing (B.A.) as well as Media and Communication Design (B.A.).

Photo: G.Wolfram