Science: Farmers to field a driverless tractor

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The Independent Online
A driverless tractor steered by satellite that can find its own way around a crop field with pinpoint precision could help to usher in a "third agricultural revolution", it was claimed yesterday. Researchers at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, expect the tractor to be the first of a new generation of fully automated farm and construction vehicles.

The 20,000 lbs tractor is guided by the Global Positioning System (GPS), 24 navigational satellites originally designed for the US military. Ultimately the system, described at the Institute of Navigation's GPS-97 conference in Kansas City, may lead to the development of "robot" tractors that a farmer can command from an office. Such precision agriculture is expected to improve farm productivity while reducing the use of fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides.