Fully autonomous vehicles could be on UK roads by 2025 under new government plans backed by a £100m investment.
New legislation is planned to speed up implementation, with £34m of security research to help develop the legislation.
Vehicles that can drive themselves on highways could even be for sale next year, the government said, but people would still need a license to use them on different types of roads.
Others that are fully autonomous and could be used for deliveries, for example, would not need a license and could be up and running within three years if the government’s vision comes true.
Self-driving cars like Teslas are already quite common in some British cities, and companies like Google are already testing autonomous vehicles on public roads in the US.
The technology relies on multiple range-sensing cameras and lasers to navigate and detect vehicles, pedestrians and other obstacles.
Supporters say it can make roads safer and reduce driver errors, but testing and rules and regulations around the technology are still being developed.
The government is consulting on safety and said the new laws would make manufacturers liable for a vehicle’s actions when autonomous driving is fully under control, meaning a human driver would not be responsible for accidents.
The industry could create up to 38,000 jobs and revolutionize public transport, according to the Department for Transport.
Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps said the technology can “improve people’s access to education and other vital services” and “make our roads safer by reducing the dangers of driver error in highway collisions.” “.
“We want the UK to be at the forefront of the development and use of this fantastic technology, which is why we are investing millions in vital security research and putting in place the legislation to ensure we get all the benefits this technology promises,” he added. . .
AA President Edmund King said the government was right to provide additional funding and research into self-driving technology and accompanying laws.
“Drive assist systems, for example autonomous emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, are already helping millions of drivers stay safe on the roads,” he said.
“It’s still a big jump from assisted driving, where the driver is still in control, to autonomous driving, where the car takes control.
“It is important for the government to study how these vehicles would interact with other road users on different roads and changing weather conditions.
“However, the ultimate prize is worth chasing, in terms of saving thousands of lives and improving mobility for the elderly and less mobile.”