Four sites in England are to begin trials of driverless cars in 2015.
The trials, made possible with £10m of funding from Innovate UK, form part of the Autumn Statement delivered yesterday by the chancellor George Osborne.
Greenwich in London, Bristol, plus Milton Keynes and Coventry will run formal trials that will last between 18 and 36 months from January next year.
According to Innovate UK, testing driverless cars in a real-world environment will lead to greater levels of understanding of these vehicles and let the public see how they will fit into everyday life.
The funding comes through Innovate UK’s Introducing driverless cars to UK roads competition.
The aim is to establish the UK as the global hub for the research, development and integration of driverless vehicles and associated technologies.
In a statement, Nick Jones, lead technologist for the low carbon vehicle innovation platform at Innovate UK, said: ‘Cars that drive themselves would represent the most significant transformation in road travel since the introduction of the internal combustion engine and at Innovate UK, we want to help the UK to lead the world in making that happen.
‘There are so many new and exciting technologies that can come together to make driverless cars a reality, but it’s vital that trials are carried out safely, that the public have confidence in that technology and we learn everything we can through the trials so that legal, regulation and protection issues don’t get in the way in the future.’