Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced a £10 million research fund and invited British cities to compete to host one of the three trials of the cutting edge technology which will begin next January.
He said: “Today’s announcement will see driverless cars take to our streets in less than six months, putting us at the forefront of this transformational technology and opening up new opportunities for our economy and society.”
Scientists and engineers around the world have been working on the technology for some time including a University of Oxford group and the Mira technology and engineering company whose facility Vince Cable visited before making the announcement.
There have also been driverless car tests on public roads in Japan and the US, where Google’s driverless cars have clocked up more than 300,000 miles.
Very finely tuned satellite and road sensor technology need to work in perfect cooperation in order for driverless cars to function safely, however the technology is now felt to have reached a stage where it is safe for use in public.
After taking a ride in a driverless car, Mr Cable said: “It was a little unnerving at first but I got back in one piece.
“We’ve got to look at the regulations for law, for regulation, for safety.
“Actually this is potentially much safer because you are eliminating human risk”
Mr Cable also highlighted the need to be at the forefront of a competitive international research environment.