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Hitchhiking robot's journey ends with Philadelphia mugging

"My trip must come to an end for now, but my love for humans will never fade," hitchBOT tweeted.

By Ben Hooper

A photo posted by @hitchbot on

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 3 (UPI) -- The Canadian researchers behind the "hitchBOT" hitchhiking robot said a planned Boston-San Francisco voyage ended prematurely in Philadelphia.

The hitchBOT team said the robot, which previously hitchhiked across Canada for 19 days last summer and also had a successful hitchhiking experience in Europe, said they received a photo Saturday night of the robot dismantled and damaged in Philadelphia.

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"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," the robot's creators said on their website.

Philadelphia resident Jesse Wellens, believed to be the last person to give hitchBOT a ride, said he left it on a bench about 6 a.m. Saturday to await its next ride.

"I feel somewhat guilty," Wellens told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Wellens said he would like to review security footage in the area in the hopes of identifying the person or people who dismembered the robot.

Frauke Zeller, a professor at Ryerson University in Toronto and co-creator of Hitchbot, said the culprit narrowly evaded being photographed by the robot's timed camera.

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"It didn't take any pictures unfortunately of the culprits," Zeller told The Guardian. "They were lucky because it takes images every 20 minutes so it must have been in-between that interval."

The robot's camera was designed to send pictures back to its support team, which posted the photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

"We can see on all our data that the tablet and battery and everything shut off at the same time so it must have been when they vandalized the bot," Zeller said.

The team pledged hitchBOT will return.

"My trip must come to an end for now, but my love for humans will never fade," hitchBOT tweeted.

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