Automobiles

Self-driving cars to hit UK roads in Volvo trial

Look, ma'am, no hands! Queen Elizabeth -- and other residents of London -- will see semi-autonomous Swedish vehicles in 2017.

Self-driving cars are hitting the public roads of Britain as Volvo brings semi-autonomous vehicles to London's streets next year.

In early 2017 a small number of semi-autonomous Volvo XC90 vehicles, with people behind the wheel in case of emergency, will be part of the first phase of a trial labelled Drive Me London. By 2018, the Swedish automaker's study is set to expand to 100 cars.

The Drive Me programme of driverless trials began in Volvo's home city of Gothenburg, where Roadshow's Tim Stevens spent time test-driving -- or rather, not driving -- Volvo's semi-autonomous cars. Semi-autonomous vehicles allow you to hand over the wheel to the car, which is equipped with GPS to guide you to your destination and sensors that detect other vehicles and obstacles.

Driverless vehicles are gathering speed across the world. China and the US are also on Volvo's list to try out autonomous vehicles. The UK is running further trials in Milton Keynes, Coventry and Bristol after the government pledged to allow driverless vehicles on British motorways by 2020. And Google, Ford, Uber and other tech giants have joined forces to give self-driving cars a push.