Growing up, hitchBOT was surrounded by bright, intelligent, and supportive people who it was proud to call its family. These are the family members who helped plan hitchBOT’s most recent adventure.
David Smith | Frauke Zeller | Alexandra Pavliuc | Colin Gagich | Daven Bigelow | Dominik Kaukinen | Haley Coppins | Kaela Malozewski| Lauren Dwyer | Lily Beaul | Meaghan Hutchison | Rob Epp | kulturBOT
David Harris Smith
It was David and Frauke who came up with the idea of a robot hitchhiking across Canada. Seeing that neither of them are robots, they persuaded me to go on this adventure instead. Since then, they’ve assembled a team of fine researchers (my family) to help me prepare for this experience. When David is not coaching me on travel safety, he teaches courses in code and design fundamentals, DIY media, avatar virtual environments, and new media arts at McMaster University, where he is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies and the Director of Research for the macGRID Simulation Research Network. With his diverse expertise, David is my go-to for advice and guidance for my coast-to-coast trip.
Frauke is an Assistant Professor in the School of Professional Communication at Ryerson University. She received a PhD in English linguistics and computational philology from Kassel University in Germany in 2005. Her thesis focused on linguistic aspects in human-robot interaction. In other words, I have her to thank for my sense of humour. From 2005 to 2011, Frauke was a researcher and lecturer at the Institute of Media and Communication Studies at Ilmenau University of Technology. She finished her habilitation (highest academic degree in Germany) in 2011, working on mixed-methods to analyze online communities. Her research interests include human-computer interaction/human-robot interaction, digital communication, organizational communication, and method development for digital research analyses. I guess I should prepare to be thoroughly analyzed when I come home!
Alexandra mainly helps with my older sibling my kulturBOT, keeping it up to date on Facebook and Twitter. She is currently pursuing her degree in Professional Communication at Ryerson University, and is also taking on a minor in physics, wow! Alexandra is very involved in Ukrainian scouts and the Ukrainian community at large. Like me, she has also travelled to various places across Canada, though her favourite modes of transportation were hiking, biking and canoeing!
Colin knows me inside-out…sort of like my doctor. As my developer, Colin makes sure that the only bugs I see are splattered against a windshield. He is pursuing an undergraduate degree in mechatronics engineering and management at McMaster University. Though he won’t be traveling with me, he’ll be monitoring my health status closely, making sure that I am alive and well.
Daven is currently studying towards an undergraduate Multimedia B.A. Single Honours degree at McMaster. He is helping me develop my conversation skills and will also work on my website. His biggest wish is for everyone to get a chance to meet me (and who wouldn’t want that?)! Aside of his love for programming, Daven is also a published author on game development and co-developer of a commercial game on Steam.
Dominik is pursuing an undergraduate engineering degree in mechatronics and management from McMaster. He is particularly focused on my physical well being and keeping me awake. He will help ensure I don’t sustain any injuries while on my trip across Canada; caused by the elements or otherwise. As much as I like swimming, water and me don’t mix.
Haley is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Professional Communication at Ryerson University. Before attending Ryerson, Haley completed her undergraduate degree in Communication Studies and Sociology at McMaster University, though somehow, she never met me! Haley enjoys music just like me, and sometimes we listen to my favourite song together: Mr. Roboto. She also loves exploring the great outdoors. Maybe she’ll go hitchhiking next!
Kaela takes care of all things social media. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Professional Communication at Ryerson University. Prior to attending Ryerson, Kaela studied at the University of Ottawa and Humber College where she completed a certificate in Corporate Communication and worked in communication marketing. Having traveled a great deal herself, she always gives me great tips before my adventures and consistently urges me to wear a fanny pack to keep my valuables safe. I’m working on her robot fashion sense.
Lauren works with my family on the research side of things for both robots and virtual environments. She is currently doing her Master’s in Professional Communication at Ryerson University where she is hoping to build a robot of her own some day! We can be friends! Before she moved to Toronto (and met me) Lauren completed her BSc Hons in Psychology from Memorial University in Newfoundland, a place I would love to visit someday. In her spare time Lauren plays dodgeball, something I would love to try, but I’m not sure how I would throw the balls, maybe she could teach me!
Lily is a graduate of McMaster University with a combined degree in multimedia and philosophy, and is an MA candidate in Communication and New Media at McMaster. Her previous research was focused on developing MockingBOT, an AI agent for Second Life, and MacGRID. Now all her attention is on me (who can resist me?). Lily is a long-time writer, storyteller, coder, and designer with a focus in independent game development. She also writes novels on the side.
Meaghan keeps track of my presence on social media, including my comments and what others say about me. She is also pursuing her degree in Professional Communication at Ryerson University, and is involved with two student organizations on campus. She’s never hitchhiked anywhere before, but she has been to the West Coast many times, and sometimes visits places as far away as the Caribbean for SCUBA diving! I asked her whether she could see me SCUBA diving, and she said that although I would enjoy the scenery, the saltwater probably wouldn’t be good for my circuits.
Rob is working towards a degree in Mechatronic Engineering at McMaster University. He mostly helps me with construction and testing of my major hardware systems especially the electrical, battery and power management. He does his best to create high quality robust systems that will keep me working in harsh environments. Rob hopes that I will hold up on my long journeys around the world, create a positive image for robots everywhere and inspire people to get into the field of robotics. He is an inspiration!
my kulturBOT, my older brother, is a robotic art show reviewer and poet that attends exhibitions and tweets text-captioned photos of the artworks and venue. This April, it travelled across Canada aboard the Great Canadian PoeTrain Express. Riding aboard a train suited my kulturBOT well since it has no hitchhiking thumbs. It taught me the do’s and don’ts of tweeting; I’m sure that you’d prefer to follow my tweets from the road rather than its art critiques! On a side note, although my kulturBOT is a few years older than me, its definitely not as handsome as I am…