Are driverless cars the next big thing in transportation? A group of Italian engineers are getting ready to send two driverless electric vehicles on an 8,000 mile journey from Italy to China, where they will pass through everything from mountain roads to city traffic — with a little help from four laser scanners and seven video cameras.

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Don’t worry — other drivers won’t be in any danger. Each driverless vehicle will have technicians behind the wheel just in case, and two manned vans will tag along for the journey as well. If something goes wrong, the technicians can take over. And the team has received permission to take the driverless cars on the already mapped-out routes in the 8,000 mile trip.

The biggest issue will be finding charge stations for the EVs in, say, the remote mountains of Siberia. Gasoline-powered generators will be on board the vehicles in the event that charge points are nowhere to be found (we have a feeling they’ll use those generators a lot).

If all goes well, the technology could one day be used to caravan trucks in hostile environments or even let normal drivers tune out in traffic. But that’s still a long way away — we have yet to see if the Italian team can complete its epic road trip.

Via Gizmodo