9 Articles
Autoblog Minute

Autonomous technology will boost productivity.

Fully autonomous tractors could be here before driverless cars.


As a teenager, I was obsessed with radio-controlled cars, which led to my purchase of a Team Associated RC10T3 and a Team Losi XXX buggy (remember those?). The fun of owning them was their ability to drive over almost any surface and, crucially, launch off jumps to dizzying heights. But apparently there's a crowd of R/C enthusiasts who prefer fully functioning radio-controlled tractors that can plow fields.


In 2007, then-president George Bush signed a law that required increased production of ethanol. Swelling ethanol demand for fuel combined with this past summer's drought has driven the price of corn (used to make ethanol) up. In fact, prices have swollen some 400 percent in the last seven years. That's comforting for corn growers, who are dealing with much smaller yields than normal. But it's not comforting for livestock producers, poultry farmers and grocery shoppers.


Farming is one of the most difficult ways to earn a living. You'd think that with all the innovations mankind has developed over the centuries, we could make farmers' lives easier. But as it turns out, sometimes miracles of modern science make things tougher. Literally.

Above: A mule team working the field in 1910. And maybe 2010?

We have shown you DIY solar lawnmowers, Toro's biodiesel lawnmowers and tractors, John Deere's biofuel musings and ethanol mowers. Now, here is a story about a farmer who has converted his previously dino-powered tractors, mowers and various farming machinery into electric power. He charges them using solar panels, as well.

Dick DeVos, the Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate, wants to position Michigan to become a national leader in ethanol production. In order to achieve this lofty goal, he wants to reduce taxes farmers pay on land and equipment and plans to build an infrastructure to make alternative fuels available to drivers. DeVos, who is in a close race with current Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, wants to cut property taxes on farmland as well as taxes on farm machinery. While DeVos has plans to

Brazil is one of the poster children for the alternative fuel movement and the country has more than once stated its desire to be the major supplier of sugarcane-based ethanol.