After a 13,000 kilometre, three month journey through Europe and Asia, unmanned vans powered by green energy and funded by the European Research Council have crossed the Chinese border.
The expedition started on July 20 in Italy, with the goal of reaching the World Expo in Shanghai on 28 October, where a demonstration will take place at the European Union/Belgian Pavilion.
The Intercontinental Autonomous Challenge is part of a research project on autonomous driving funded mainly by the ERC, which aims to improve road safety.
“We have now covered more than two thirds of the route. When it comes to the technology of the vehicles it went smoothly all-in-all,” said lead researcher Alberto Broggi, of Parma University’s Vislab. “We are happy about the test and the great amount of data we are acquiring for further processing at the end of the trip. We had to intervene manually only on limited occasions, for example in the traffic jams of Moscow, when passing a toll station or in case of really adverse weather.”
The convoy, which includes back-up vehicles, has travelled about 6,500 km in 80 days and passed the border between Kazakhstan and China. The rest of the trip will take an estimated 17 days, through varied Chinese landscape, including the Gobi Desert.:
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