apoc.famine writes "Driverless technology from the University of Parma's VisLab was deployed in a real-world test on Tuesday. Two driverless chase vehicles will attempt to follow two lead vehicles across multiple continents, from Italy to China, over the course of three months. The journey will cover over 8,000 miles, (~13,000 km) as the chase vehicles use lasers and cameras to navigate hazards along the way. The team expects to collect about 100 TB of data, which requires a hefty electronics and battery load — the scale is such that the cars can only run for about three hours before needing 8 hours to recharge the batteries. This journey is being billed as just a test, and far from a real-world application. The vehicles don't go more than about 35mph, and need a person behind the wheel to take over at a moment's notice. 'What we are trying to do is stress our systems and see if they can work in a real environment, with real weather, real traffic, and crazy people who cross the road in front of you and a vehicle that cuts you off,' said project leader Alberto Broggi. The goal is not to produce just road vehicles, but to improve the technology so it can be used in military and agricultural roles as well. The team hopes to have helped mature the technology within the next 10-20 years to the point that it can be used on the road."