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Talking, tweeting, GPS-enabled robot – hitchBOT is traversing Canada


Scientists said that in future robots will be able to replace human beings at the work places. Already there are robots that have been deployed in some supermarkets to usher in customers and even to answer some simple and straight forward questions.

So, next time you see something that looks like a pile of junk by the roadside don’t ignore it. It might be you’ve just come across an ‘intelligent’ robot by the name hitchBOT.

HitchBOT is a creation of the professors at Ryerson and McMaster Universities in Canada. It is a collaborative art project that was mooted in 2013.

The project is much of a social experiment to study human-robot interaction and also to test artificial intelligence technologies and speech recognition and processing.

Artificial Intelligence is a field of study that deals with the design of human-like intelligent machines. The machines so built should able to perceive their environment and take appropriate actions. They should also be able to hear, reason, learn and even plan!

Much of the study on AI has gone in the design of hitchBOT. The robot, clad in a pair of galoshes is GPS-enabled and is able to talk and even tweet!

The aim is for the robot to cover approximately 3,700 miles west from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Victoria, British Columbia.

The robot which is made of an old bucket and pool noodles has solar panels to power it and a computerized ‘brain’ to control it.

It is able to hitchhike across Canada because its creators enabled it to speak. You can ask it about who built it, its journey and even about its creation.

“We expect hitchBOT to be charming and trustworthy enough in its conversation to secure rides across Canada,” said Dr. David Harris Smith an assistant professor of communication studies and multimedia at McMaster University.
The robot is also expected to record the whole of its journey. It has GPS and 3G wireless and posts updates to social media as it journeys across Canada. It is also able to post pictures to Instagram.

Apart from the solar panels, the robot can also be charged using a car’s cigarette lighter and via any electrical outlet. And in case its power runs out while it is waiting for a ride, it has written instructions that explains how you can strap it into your can and then plug it in. it can also direct you to an instructional website.

This experiment aims at finding out whether humans being can trust robots. Can you trust a robot that is moving on its won and is able to talk?

Well, in future you might even have a robot as your personal secretary or even as nanny to take care of your loved ones.

So much experiment is going on in the field of artificial intelligence and in future you may have a machine that can help you in solving your problems.

Let’s hope that hitchBOT will not end up in a trash dump but complete its mission to help conclude this study successfully.

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