Hitchbot visits its human relatives at Waterloo seniors’ home
Published Tuesday, November 4, 2014 6:18PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 4, 2014 6:46PM EST
This time, Hitchbot had a ride.
The robot-slash-social-experiment that attracted worldwide headlines earlier this year stopped in at a seniors’ home in Waterloo.
One of the men behind Hitchbot, David Smith, was also the man behind Tuesday's visit -- which was a family reunion of sorts.
A former Waterloo resident, Smith wanted to show off the robot to his father, its 'grandfather' – who still lives in town – and ultimately decided that the rest of his retirement community should get their chance to meet Hitchbot as well.
“Everywhere we go with Hitchbot, it has a really great social appeal,” he said.
“People appreciate the sense of humour, but also the technological development.”
For three weeks this summer, Hitchbot hitchhiked across Canada on a 6,000-kilometre journey.
People who came in contact with the robot took it camping, to a First Nations powwow on Manitoulin Island, and even to dip its toes in Lake Superior.
All through its journey, Facebook and Twitter accounts brought Hitchbot’s whimsical journey to tens thousands of curious fans.
Tuesday, the social media sensation met a group of admirers generally less familiar with its story – but no less impressed.
Peg Keeler called the visit “fantastic,” particularly as the 95-year-old can recall living her childhood without electric lights, telephones or running water.
“This all has happened within our lifetime. That’s what makes it so wonderful,” she said.
Hitchhiking isn’t such a common activity for humans these days – Keeler recalled her brother hitchhiking to get to her wedding in the 1940s – but Smith said it may be bubbling closer to the surface than most realize.
“If you take the word ‘hitchhiking’ and swap it for ‘ridesharing’, suddenly it has this very friendly, environmental context,” he said.
With files from The Canadian Press