Robot hitchhiker learning about human kindness found beheaded

A hitchhiking robot from Canada has been found murdered after just two weeks in the US

A robot built to study the nature of human kindness has been found beheaded and dismembered on the streets of Philadelphia.

Designed by scientists at Canada's Ryerson University, HitchBOT was an autonomous robot who was designed to study humanity through hitchhiking.

Fitted with a GPS and camera for tracking and documenting his travels, HitchBOT could hold basic conversations with people through Cleverscript technology. 

HitchBOT relied on the kindness of strangers to complete cross-country trips, travelling across Canada in 26 days and Germany in 10 days by getting rides from passersby.

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His next journey was a tour of America, beginning on July 17 in Salem, Massachusetts, with a goal of reaching San Francisco's Exploratorium museum.

One of the project's creators, Dr. Frauke Zeller said: "Usually, we are concerned whether we can trust robotsbut this project takes it the other way around and asks: can robots trust human beings?"

Sadly, however, HitchBOT learned the ultimate lesson about human nature after barely two weeks in the US, when his dismembered body was discovered in Philadelphia.

Found lying in the street in the early hours of Saturday August 1, HitchBOT had had his arms and head removed, discarded and abandoned.

"I hope to complete items from my hitchhiking bucket list with the help of friendly strangers," HitchBOT wrote prior to his trip, adding: "I cannot wait to make new friends".

HitchBOT's family' has remained positive about the tragedy, and released a statement urging fans not to worry.

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"Sometimes bad things happen to good robots. We know that many of HitchBOT's fans will be disappointed, but we want them to be assured that this great experiment is not over," the scientists at Ryerson University wrote.

"We have no interest in pressing charges or finding the people who vandalized HitchBOT; we wish to remember the good times, and we encourage hitchBOT's friends and fans to do the same."

HitchBOT's mission looks set to continue, passed on to his eventual successor, but for now we can remember the plucky robot that crossed countries, attended weddings and even participated in a parade.

Goodnight, sweet prince. HitchBOT, we hardly knew ye.

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