On its face, pirating such software would seem to be illegal. But in 2015, the Librarian of Congress approved an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for land vehicles, which includes tractors. The exemption allows modification of “computer programs that are contained in and control the functioning of a motorized land vehicle such as a personal automobile, commercial motor vehicle or mechanized agricultural vehicle … when circumvention is a necessary step undertaken by the authorized owner of the vehicle to allow the diagnosis, repair, or lawful modification of a vehicle function.”
I recently picked up a 1st generation Nook for $20. I was a little weary of the age of the battery (6 or so years old?), but it turns out that this Nook is one of the few consumer electronics released in recent memory that was built to be repairable. (The battery was meant to be replaced! There are even official instructions.) This is in stark contrast to my 2nd generation Amazon Kindle which had hardware problems and became unusable right after the warranty period ended. That experience soured me on the Kindle, understandably.
The rest of the e-waste entering Wistron’s recycling plant has a different fate. Cables go one way to have their copper recovered. Steel frames go another. Lithium-ion batteries go to dedicated lithium operations. Case fans might even be saved and reused. Any components that can be yanked off circuit boards are, and then it’s on to precious metals.
“In some ways, it’s gotta start on the front end, in terms of consumers wanting products that are more recyclable,” Huang said.
That’s a particularly tough sell since consumers get almost no information about how recyclable any given product is. A company may improve its image by advertising “green” programs, but there is little financial incentive beyond that to put the work into solving these problems and designing for recyclability. It’s hard enough to match competitors’ progress on all the characteristics consumers know they do want.
The closest thing to an Energy Star label for recyclability is the EPEAT registry, where companies can verify that their products meet an IEEE standard.
On Monday, HERE (the mapping company now owned by Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz) and the Iowa Department of Transportation announced their own project to develop an autonomous vehicle and freight movement corridor on I-380 between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids.