You might not have expected the future to look like your granddad's groovy camper van, but take a closer look here and you'll find that this is indeed nothing like your forefather's people carrier. The VisLab team from the University of Parma have taken a fleet of Piaggio Porter Electric vehicles, strapped them with an array of cameras, lasers and other sensors, and topped them off with solar panels to keep the electronics powered. Oh, and lest we forgot to mention: the vans are (mostly) autonomous. VIAC (or VisLab Intercontinental Autonomous Challenge) is the grand name given to their big demonstration: an 8,000-mile, 3-month tour that will ultimately find them arriving in Shanghai, China, having set off from Milan this Tuesday. You can follow the day-by-day development on the blog below, though we're still being told that practical driverless road cars are a measure of decades, not years, away.

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Driverless vans set off on intercontinental trek from Italy to China (video)