Meet hitchBOT, the Wikipedia-quoting robot that wants to hitchhike across Canada
Monday, June 16, 2014, 1:21 PM - Imagine driving along the TransCanada Highway when you notice a hitchhiker by the side of the road. That's nothing unusual, but this one draws your attention like no other. He's short, looks a bit like a bucket with a cake saver on top, and he's wearing bright red Wellies on his 'feet'. The thumb of his yellow garden glove definitely indicates he's looking for a ride, so what do you do? Do you drive on, or stop for the curious little robot?
This is one of the questions at the heart of an experiment designed by researchers from McMaster University and Ryerson University. They have put together hitchBOT, a robot that will be able to access the collective knowledge of Wikipedia and use it to carry on multiple simultaneous conversations, to see if it will be able to safely hitchhike all the way across Canada.
From hitchBOT's website:
According to the researchers, this also comes down to trust.
"Usually, we are concerned whether we can trust robots … but this project takes it the other way around and asks: can robots trust human beings?" said Dr. Frauke Zeller, an assistant professor at Ryerson's School of Professional Communication, according to a press release. "We expect hitchBOT to be charming and trustworthy enough in its conversation to secure rides through Canada."
So, if you happen to see this unusual little robot sitting by the side of the road, stop and give it a lift. At the very least you'll have an interesting travel companion, but you'll also be part of a neat little science experiment at the same time.