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Future farms: Driverless tractors with no cabs and AI-sorted cucumbers



You hear a lot about the impending arrival of driverless cars on our roads, but check out the fully driverless tractor in the video above for a glimpse of the future where a ‘driver’ doesn’t really play any part at all.

One difference between tractors and cars is that the car’s purpose is to transport people, whereas the tractor is purely a too, meaning you can do away with the bit where the pesky people normally sit altogether, streamlining the design. Y’know, like how tractor manufacturers historically try to streamline their vehicles. Yeah.

Either way, the end result is probably the best-looking tractor I’ve ever seen and one that doesn’t need human intervention, in theory, to trundle around the fields all day and night. Admittedly, Case IH’s is a long way off (around 2018, at the earliest) and because there’s no space for a person to sit (and take control if necessary), there will be even higher regulatory hurdles to overcome if it ever needs to venture out of the fields and onto public roads between sites.

The plan as it stands for the farmer to operate the vehicle remotely if necessary via a tablet or computer, which is where it differs from self-driving tractors and farming equipment already in use in some places. Like cars, those tractors are far more traditional and require a person to be present in the cab.

Aside of that, it’s fully autonomous and uses GPS and an array of sensors to cruise around avoiding obstacles.


Ploughing the fields isn’t the only place AI’s being put to work in an agricultural production setting though; a Japanese cucumber farmer has built a home-made AI-powered sorting mechanism to classify the farms produce as one of nine different types of cucumber according to thickness, size, color, texture, imperfections and more.

Apparently, the sorting of cucumbers is a trickier business than you might imagine. Now the family-run farm doesn’t need to do it manually anymore and there’s more time to focus on other jobs.

It probably helped that this particular farmer’s son, Makoto Koike, previously worked as an embedded systems designer when putting all the free Google frameworks together for the project.

I’m a tech journalist and editor with lots of opinions. is a place for me to put those. All views expressed are personal, and not those of any titles for which I write in other capacities. As well as running this site, I also write for WIRED, Engadget, Trusted Reviews, and a number of other leading technology titles. I also run

You’re welcome to contact me via [email protected] if you have news or anything else to pass along, on twitter at @10sectech or @TheNextWoods

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Kodak’s new Ektra smartphone doesn’t blow the competition away on paper, but that’s OK



Kodak launched its first smartphone of 2016 today, and unsurprisingly it’s pitched directly at photographers. Sort of.

As much as the leatherette handset combined with a huge, protruding shutter cover leaves little doubt who the phone is aimed at, the camera tech itself is doesn’t blow established smartphone rivals out of the water. For £450 (it’s not available to pre-order yet, but you can register interest) you get a 21MP fast focus camera sensor with F2.0, phase-detection auto-focus (PDAF), optical image stabilisation (OIS) and dual LED flash. On the front, there’s a 13MP F2.2 PDAF selfie camera. Those certainly aren’t specs to sniff at, but they don’t blow the competition out of the water either.

Other hardware highlights include a 2.3GHz Decacore processor, 5-inch full HD display, 3GB RAM and 32GB of onboard storage. There’s also microSD expansion, as you’d expect on a phone made by a camera brand.

While the hardware is no slouch, it’s going to be the combination of novelty, price-point, camera specs and other value added through photographic tweaks – like an advanced manual mode, scene selection and a Super 8 Video Recorder.

With a sea of me-too smartphones, all performing comparably, Kodak’s Ektra might not win on paper, but it probably has enough appeal to attract buyers

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This was supposed to be a BlackBerry DTEK 50 phone review



Here, right in this space, there was supposed to be a phone review of the BlackBerry DTEK50, but with whatever remaining respect is possible for the company, I’ve decided it’s just not worth the time. And, y’know, it’s my site, so…

Before all three remaining BlackBerry fans, and John Chen, lose their shit, I will state this: it’s not a bad phone. That’s pretty much irrelevant at this point though, because no-one is going to buy it. And even if they do, there won’t be any more from BlackBerry itself.

So how, in good conscience, could I recommend you buy a phone from a company that’s no longer making phones? Exactly. BlackBerry is going to focus on software instead – and let’s hope that’s not a plan based entirely on licensing BlackBerry 10, because if BlackBerry can’t make it work, not many other manufacturers are going to bother trying.

So, on the off-chance you are still considering buying the DTEK 50 – and I’d have to question why exactly – I’ll just tell you this again: it’s not a bad phone. It won’t blow you away, but it’s light, capable(ish) and comes with the few BlackBerry tweaks that do actually make some sense, like its integrated Hub for all your messaging.

The camera isn’t anything special by any means, but the display is a crisp, bright 5.2-inch 1080p panel. It really is one of the highlights of an otherwise pretty middling handset. Unfortunately, with such dazzling feature (singular) to praise, the less-than-desirable battery life and frequent ‘wtf is taking so long’ moments probably won’t fill you with joy overall.

It’s certainly not expensive, at around £270, but honestly, why bother? There are plenty of alternatives you could go for from big name brands, and higher spec alternatives from companies like OnePlus at similar price points.

It’s sad to say it, but if there didn’t seem to be a lot of point reviewing the phone, there probably isn’t a lot of point buying it either.  One last time though: it’s not a bad phone.

RIP, BlackBerry.

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If you drill a hole in your new iPhone 7 looking for a headphone jack then you’re a moron



Look, sometimes you just have to call something how it is, and in this instance, drilling a hole in the bottom of your iPhone 7 because you saw a YouTube video telling you it would reveal a secret headphone jack makes you at least ‘pretty silly indeed’ if not a full-blown ‘moron’.

Sure, there could be loads of reasons someone believed the video – on a channel dedicated to DESTROYING TECHNOLOGY. Or perhaps all the people claiming to have tried it themselves after watching the videos are false.

You never really know on the Web, and that’s a lesson that anyone who has genuinely drilled a hole in their iPhone 7 just learned the hard way. But, you should know with something like this.

You really should.

Or maybe, just maybe, if the headphone socket was that important to you, buying an iPhone 7 was a dumb move.

Either way, there’s no sympathy here.

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