Self-driving cars without a human supervisor will be tested on public roads in the UK by the end of the year, under government plans.

Fully driverless trials have previously only taken place on a limited scale in the US and Europe.

The Department of Transport said the move towards advanced trials would push the UK to the forefront of the industry.

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“Thanks to the UK’s world class research base, this country is in the vanguard of the development of new transport technologies, including automation,” said Jesse Norman, the transport minister.

“The government is supporting the safe, transparent trialling of this pioneering technology, which could transform the way we travel.”

The government estimates that the UK’s market for self-driving technology will be worth £52bn by 2035.

“The UK has a rich heritage in automotive development and manufacturing, with automated and electric vehicles set to transform the way we all live our lives,” said Richard Harrington, the automitive minister.

“We need to ensure we take the public with us as we move towards having self-driving cars on our roads by 2021. The update to the code of practice will provide clearer guidance to those looking to carry out trials on public roads.”

Advanced driverless trials on UK roads by the end of 2019 will also help the government keep to its commitment of having self-driving vehicles on UK roads by 2021, ministers said, though doubts have been raised over whether key concerns about the technology can be overcome in time.

“One critical issue getting less attention is the very clear risk that self-driving cars are exposed to cyber attacks, the consequences of which could be disastrous,” Richard Anton, co-founder of cyber security investment firm Oxx, told The Independent.

“A key priority must therefore be ensuring that appropriate cybersecurity defences are deployed so this fantastic, ground-breaking technology does not fall victim to hackersone critical issue getting less attention is the very clear risk that self-driving cars are exposed to cyber attacks, the consequences of which could be disastrous.

“A key priority must therefore be ensuring that appropriate cyber security defences are deployed so this fantastic, ground-breaking technology does not fall victim to hackers.”

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