The trip and the fact that the van managed to undertake it is a record in itself. Developments in this sector are moving fast, while more and more companies, Google included (their cars still have humans on board), are beginning to pay an increased attention to these types of vehicles.
"We are really happy. It's a real milestone in our field of vehicular robotics," lead researcher Alberto Broggi was quoted as saying by CNN.
The vans that achieved this feat were equipped with asers, scanners and cameras to help them navigate their way. Two of them set out from Italy, accompanied by a manned one vehicle.
The van went through some of the harshest environments the planet has to offer, passing through Siberia and the Gobi desert. According to VisLab, the group of people behind the experiment, everything went without major hitches.
The trip was the perfect test to see whether such a system can be made to work and to show that unmanned cars and trucks can become reality in the near future.
"This driverless trip to China shows how science can capture people's imagination through achievements that would recently have been unthinkable ... and provide major environmental and economic benefits," Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, the head of research, innovation and science for the European Commission told CNN.