Driverless cars will be tested on UK roads by the end of this year.
UK trials of the autonomous vehicles have only taken place on private land up to now. Driverless cars are guided by a system of sensors and cameras.
When the tests are carried out a back-up driver will ride along so that they can take over in case of emergency.
The Department for Transport (DfT) unveiled the plans in its policy paper ‘Action for roads: a network for the 21st century’.
The report says the vehicles will use knowledge of the environment in which they are driving. It adds: “They maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front at a set speed and without deviating from their lane – all without the driver’s input.”
The trials will take place on rural roads and will be carried out by Oxford University researchers who have been developing and testing autonomous car technology on an adapted Nissan Leaf around Oxford Science Park.
Lasers and small cameras are used to memorise regular journeys like the commute or the school run.
Prof Paul Newman, who leads the Oxford team, told the BBC: “It’s a great area to be working in because it’s IT and computers and that’s what changes things. The British government sees that engineering is important.”