Out: Driverless cars. In: Robot hitchhikers.

The robot looks like it was made out of components scavenged from a yard sale – a bucket, pool noodles, cake saver, garden gloves and yellow Wellington boots – but it has a sense of direction and can even ask and answer questions. His conversation skills might be a bit stilted, but hitchBOT has managed to charm its way across 3,700 miles (6,000 kilometers) since it began its journey in Nova Scotia on July 26.

Smith said hitchBOT has a built-in GPS system and is programmed with mobile technology similar to a smartphone, with speech recognition software that works in conjunction with language modelling. The robot links questions with answers by looking for certain key words and is programmed to scour Wikipedia to spit out regionally relevant facts.

The team also programmed hitchBOT to track its adventures online and take pictures to post on Twitter and Instagram.