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Intelligent Electric Car without Driver. From Europe to Shanghai EXPO 2010.11.06

Shanghai, China - October 29, 2010 - The "Intercontinental Autonomous Challenge", a historic cutting-edge 13,000 km test drive from Europe to Asia with a driverless van, has been successful. After travelling for over three months, this intelligent non-polluting vehicle, powered by green energy, is reaching its final destination in Shanghai.

29 October 2010 - the "Intercontinental Autonomous Challenge", a historic cutting-edge 13,000 km test drive from Europe to Asia with a driverless van, has been successful. The Intelligent driverless vehicles at Shanghai EXPO 2010.
Source: VisLab

Shanghai, China - October 29, 2010

The "Intercontinental Autonomous Challenge", a historic cutting-edge 13,000 km test drive from Europe to Asia with a driverless van, has been successful.

July 2010 - VisLab staff and driverless vehicles.
Source: VisLab
After travelling for over three months
, this intelligent non-polluting vehicle, powered by green energy, is reaching its final destination in Shanghai.

July 2010 - VisLab driverless vehicles. Internals
Source: VisLab
The experiment, led by Prof. Alberto Broggi, is part of a pioneering research project on autonomous driving, made possible mainly thanks to significant funding by the European Research Council (ERC).

July 2010 - VisLab driverless vehicles. Internals
Source: VisLab
Like a modern version of Marco Polo's journey halfway around the globe, the expedition started from Italy on 20 July.

July 2010 - VisLab driverless vehicles. Internals
Source: VisLab
A milestone was reached after 80 days of travelling through Eastern Europe, Russia including Moscow, and Kazakhstan, when the vehicle finally crossed the Chinese border.
It then faced up to the Gobi desert and continued towards Shanghai.

20 July 2010 - the Inaugural Ceremony in Milan.
Source: VisLab
The endeavour is unique in that it has put autonomous driving to the test in real life conditions across two continents in varied environments, including extreme ones.

20 July 2010 - the Inaugural Ceremony in Milan.
Source: VisLab
Also, no maps were used, partly owing to that the van travelled across off the beaten track areas in Siberia and China.

10 September 2010 - Jekaterinburg 
Source: VisLab
The project uses low-cost technologies that can relatively easily be integrated in most vehicles' chassis and could in the future help improve road safety and have a positive impact on fuel efficiency and more.

10 September 2010 - Jekaterinburg 
Source: VisLab
The technology stood up to the test: 12 refined sensors allowed the vehicle to drive safely in very different types of traffic, weather and road conditions.

20 September 2010 - Novosibirsk
Source: VisLab
The data collected throughout the trip
is a valuable source that will now be analysed in order to advance the technology further in the framework of the ERC-fundedfive-year project on autonomous driving (OFAV).

12 October 2010 - from Yining to Tian Shan
Source: VisLab
The test drive is an intermediate step and more experiments are foreseen before the end of the project.

12 October 2010 - from Yining to Tian Shan
Source: VisLab
Lead researcher Prof. Alberto Broggi from Parma University, Italy, (VisLab)
"This test drive challenging the technology has been incredible and we're happy we made it to the finishing line without major problems. We travelled in different environments, from hectic motor ways to isolated mountain roads and desert tracks, and in rain, blizzard and strong sunlight. The van even gave a hitchhiker a driverless lift. We had to intervene manually only on limited occasions such as in the Moscow traffic jams and when passing toll stations."

28 October 2010 - Prof. Alberto Broggi from Parma University, Italy, (VisLab) takes interview in front of the Intelligent driverless vehicle at Shanghai EXPO 2010.
Source: VisLab
"With some 40,000 road fatalities yearly in Europe alone, it is our hope that this new technology can increase road safely in the future by complementing drivers' ability. But there are other fields of applications too such as agriculture, mining and construction to name a few."

28 October 2010 - Press conference at EU Pavilion at Shanghai EXPO 2010.
Source: VisLab
The President of European Research Council Prof. Helga Nowotny
"This is a fascinating example of a frontier research project funded by the ERC: fascinating, because it captures the imagination through the range of potential applications, but equally through the spirit of adventure that is inherent in much of frontier research.”.


Lead researcher Prof. Alberto Broggi was awarded a prestigious ERC "Advanced Grant" for the project OFAV (Open intelligent systems for Future Autonomous Vehicles) in 2008, which lasts five years.

28 October 2010 - Intelligent driverless vehicle demo at the Shanghai EXPO 2010.
Source: VisLab
His "Intercontinental Autonomous Challenge" is part of his ERC funded project and tested if the refined sensory technology worked and collected data throughout the trip.

28 October 2010 - Intelligent driverless vehicle demo at the Shanghai EXPO 2010.
Source: VisLab
The experiment aimed to show that it is possible - although only in a prototype version - to move goods between two continents with non-polluting vehicles powered by green energy and with very limited human intervention.

29 October 2010 - Intelligent driverless vehicle riding in Shanghai.
Source: VisLab
The objective is also to develop an open architecture for future autonomous vehicles to become a standard platform shared by car makers in the design of the next generation of intelligent vehicles.

To read more:

The journey's blog:

Set up in 2007 by the EU, the European Research Council (ERC) is the first pan-European funding organisation for frontier research.
It aims to stimulate scientific excellence in Europe by supporting the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age.

also strives to attract top researchers from anywhere in the world to come to Europe.
It funds both senior research leaders ("ERC Advanced Grants") and younger, early-career top researchers ("ERC Starting Grants").

The ERC operates according to an "investigator-driven", or "bottomup", approach and is open to any field of research.

The ERC, the newest, pioneering component of the EU's Seventh Research Framework Programme, has a total budget of €7.5 billion from 2007 to 2013.
It is led by a Scientific Council, composed of 22 top scientists and scholars.

ERC website

Press contacts

Madeleine Drielsma
ERC Communications adviser (Press)
ERC Headquarters, Brussels
Tel: +32 2 298 76 31

William Fingleton
Head of Press and Information Section
EU Delegation to China, Beijing
Tel: +86-10-84548089

Zhong Na
Press Officer
EU Delegation to China, Beijing
Tel: +86-10-84548060 / 13501087209


After about two decades of continuous research on Intelligent Vehicles, VisLab is preparing to set a new worldwide milestone in the field of Vehicular Robotics.

29 October 2010 - Intelligent driverless vehicle riding in Shanghai.
Source: VisLab
Autonomous vehicles
are being prepared and tested to drive with no human intervention from Parma, Italy, to Shanghai, China, along a 13,000 km and 3 months unique journey.

Not only the vehicles are unmanned, but they run on electrical power and the whole electronic pilot is powered by solar energy, making this trip unique in history: goods packed in Italy will be brought to Shanghai on an intercontinental route with no human intervention and without using traditional fuel for the first time in history.

You can discover the challenge, read about the difficulties, and follow the expedition live on


a blog is also available to interact with the engineers testing and following the vehicles.

Live video streaming from the vehicles is available during the whole expedition, so that the world will be able to eye-witness this historical milestone.




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