Driverless Vehicles Complete Trek From Italy To China

Back in July, I wrote about an Italian project in which an engineering team was going to allow two driverless electric vans to make their way from Parma to Shanghai. After months of travel, they’ve just arrived at their destination, unharmed and triumphant.

It’s probably setting some kind of records, but in the end it was really just a big in vivo experiment for the researchers, whose artificial vision software and drive mechanisms probably underwent major revision during the drive. Accidents were few but far from nonexistent, though I suspect the greater stress was from the fact that these vans had to charge 8 hours for every 3 hours of driving. I’d die of boredom, personally, although it’d be a nice way to force you to relax.

These aren’t quite the driverless cars Google was thinking of, but they’re part of the solution. They’re not totally independent, and require intervention every once in a while, when things like tollbooths or herds of goats provide unexpected obstacles.

Still, it’s an amazing achievement! Congratulations to Alberto Broggi and his team.

[via Reddit]