The robotic farmer changing biofuels forever

gantry biofuels crops

You've probably heard of biofuels -- plants that are converted into fuel and have the potential to replace gasoline.

But there's a problem: Plants take energy to grow and to be converted into a usable fuel. And that makes biofuels more expensive and resource-draining than traditional fuels.

But machines like this one -- created by the Danforth Plant Science Center -- and a plant called sorghum could change all that.

With an $8 million investment from ARPA-E, Danforth created a robot that uses a variety of sensors to pinpoint which plants in a field are thriving while using the least amount of resources.

That information could allow the farmers to breed super-plants that are cheaper and more efficient to grow. That could finally make biofuels cost-competitive with gasoline.

"We can see that the potential answer is within reach in just a matter of years," Tod Mockler of the Donald Danforth Center said in a video highlighting the project.

First published March 9, 2016: 10:25 AM ET

Partner Offers

Most Popular