The Canadian researchers responsible for hitchBOT, a child-sized "social robot" famous for its cross-country travels, confirmed over the weekend that their creation had been destroyed beyond repair.
"The head, as far as we know, is missing," said McMaster University professor David Smith to CBC News, noting that some of its electronic parts had also been stripped out.
Sadly, HitchBOT was only two weeks into its first tour across the U.S. when it was destroyed. The beloved bot is believed to have been vandalized Saturday night in Philadelphia while waiting for its next ride.
As one of the last two people to see hitchBOT alive, Philly-based YouTube star Jesse Wellens has been particularly invested on finding out what happened to it.
Wellens and his friend Ed Bassmaster picked the bot up in the early morning hours of Aug. 1 and dropped it off near Elfreth's Alley and 2nd Street, as confirmed by HitchBOT's live map.
"Dropping the Robot at Elfreths Ally," Wellens tweeted to his nearly 900,000 followers shortly before 4 a.m. ET. "Waiting for one of you peeps to pick it up."
Whether the tweet tipped off a robot-hater or a vandal simply stumbled upon hitchBOT is not known, but by Saturday afternoon, Canada's tiny beloved traveller announced its own death.
The internet has been reeling over hitchBOT's "murder" ever since, as fans across the world express their condolences or offer to help with its repair.
A lieutenant from the Philadelphia Police Department told the Associated Press police could only investigate the act of vandalism if a criminal complaint is filed.
Smith told CBC News that his team will not be trying to find the person responsible for hitchBOT's demise, but Wellens was less forgiving in the days following the robot attack.
"Thanks Philly!!! You freaking Killed @hitchBOT I'm so mad right now," he tweeted Saturday evening. "Of course Killadelphia Kills the Robot!"
Early Sunday morning, he indicated that he was attempting to find security footage from near the scene.
His efforts appear to have paid off.
Wellens sent CBC News a full-length video clip that he says was obtained from a resident who lives on Elfreths Ally.
Timestamped at 5:46 a.m. Saturday morning, the closed-circuit security system footage shows what looks like a man in a Philadelphia Eagles jersey repeatedly kicking hitchBOT and removing some of its parts.
WARNING: Footage may be upsetting to watch or unsuitable for young children.
While the clip above certainly seems to shed some light upon how Canada's favourite hitchhiking robot lost its life, some online have urged viewers not to trust its veracity outright. Wellens is, after all, a professional prankster.
"It could be nothing, but Bassmaster and Jesse Wellens were both 1) The last people to record video of hitchBOT in one piece and 2) The people who acquired this supposed surveillance camera footage," wrote Gizmodo's Matt Novak Monday. "If this was a prank, it would be a pretty s*** one."Suggest a correction