Autonomous vehicles could be on UK roads by 2025 under government plans
Fully autonomous vehicles could be on British roads by 2025 under new government plans backed by a £100 million investment.
New laws are planned to speed up the rollout, with £34 million of safety research to fuel the development of legislation.
Vehicles that can only be driven on freeways could even go on sale within the next year, the government said, but people would still need a licence 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 operational in three years if the government's vision becomes a reality.
Cars with autonomous driving capabilities, such as Teslas, are already quite common in some British cities, and companies such as Google are already testing autonomous vehicles on public roads in the United States.
The technology relies on multiple distance-sensing cameras and lasers to navigate and spot vehicles, pedestrians and other obstacles.
Supporters say it can make roads safer and reduce driver error, but testing and rules and regulations around the technology are still being developed.
The government is consulting on safety and has said 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 transportation, according to the Department of Transportation.
Transport 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 risk of driver error in crashes."
"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 safety research and setting out the legislation to ensure we get all the benefits this technology promises," he added.
AA President Edmund King said the government is right to invest more in funding and research into self-driving technology and the laws that go along with it.
"Driver assistance systems, for example, autonomous emergency braking and adaptive cruise control already help millions of drivers stay safe on the roads," he said.
"It's still a big step from assisted driving, where the driver remains in control, to autonomous driving, where the car takes control.
"It is important that the government study how these vehicles would interact with other road users on different roads and in changing weather conditions.
"However, the ultimate prize, in terms of saving thousands of lives and improving mobility for the elderly and less mobile, is worth pursuing."