Where Are They Now?

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants Leave a Comment

Two automotive teams on epic journeys we’ve reported on previously are making great progress toward their goals.

The Vislab Intercontinental Autonomous Challenge is in Samara, Russia, a few hundred miles north of the Kazakhstan border.  An ostensibly driverless tour from Parma, Italy to Shanghai, China is planned to arrive at its destination on October 10, 2010, 21 days before the end of the World Expo being held there.  On the way, two pairs of vehicles are testing Vislab’s goal “to move goods between two continents with non-polluting vehicles powered by green energy and with virtually no human intervention.”

As noted in this blog, the Italian team is running two pairs of Piaggio vans on a route emulating but not duplicating Marco Polo’s 13th century trek to China and back.  Polo spent much of the first part of the voyage on a ship and docked near Iraq’s western borders before setting off inland.  After 24 years on the road, he returned to Italy to be imprisoned because his home city of Venice was at war with Genoa, and Genoa was winning.  He used the time of his imprisonment to write the journal of his adventures. National Geographic has an excellent multimedia presentation on Polo’s trip.

The video provides a sample of what Vislab is attempting with this challenge, and includes links to company videos on self-driving automobiles and other developments.

The current drive is an attempt to test the limits of self-navigating and operating trucks and in its prototype form is making good time, despite several equipment and logistics issues.

The sportier run fields an electric supercar which looks more like a LeMans racer than a serious road car.  Looks being truly deceiving in this case, the Imperial College Racing Green Endurance team was in Honduras on August 25, day 58 of the journey along the Pan-American Highway.  Considering they started in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska nearly two months ago, they too are making excellent time on their way to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. 

After a relatively short day's run from Guatemala, RGE team is greeted in San Salvador on day 55

The RGE team has been experiencing several days’ travel in excess of 250 miles, all on Thunder Sky battery power, and all without recharging during each day’s travel.  Group members maintain an excellent log of the trip, although the exhausting nature of the tour causes its writing to lag actual progress by a few days.

Both groups are to be congratulated on their intrepid sense of adventure and their pioneering explorations into future technology.

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