Cars that drive themselves down motorways will be available to consumers by the end of this decade, a senior government figure has predicted.
Roads minister Andrew Jones said driverless cars would be on the market within four years.
This month’s Queen’s Speech signalled the government’s intention to bring forward laws to ease the process of insuring autonomous vehicles.
Jones said today: “Driverless cars are coming, and sooner than many people expect.
“They will be a great step forward in automotive history, and potentially add significantly to quality of life and human freedom.”
Jones added: “The government believes that within four years it will be possible to buy cars that, under supervision, park on their own and pilot themselves on motorways.”
The minister said the Road Traffic Act 1988 would be amended in the light of new technology.
“Compulsory motor insurance will be retained, but it will be extended to cover product liability, so that when a motorist has handed control to their vehicle, they can be reassured that their insurance will be there if anything goes wrong,” said Jones.
“Where the vehicle is at fault then the insurer will be able to seek reimbursement from the manufacturer.
“The vital point is that, for affected individuals, the insurance process will feel much the same.”
Car maker Volvo last month revealed plans to trial semi-autonomous vehicles on UK roads in 2017.