17/07/2013 14:07 BST | Updated 17/07/2013 14:11 BST

Driverless Cars Will Be Tested On UK Public Roads By 2014

Photo Call For 'The Pod Car' A Driverless Vehicle Which Is Being Showcased At The Science Museum. The Vehicle Is Part Of A Fleet Currently Being Tested At Heathrow Airport Before Opening To Passengers Next Year When It Will Be A World First. (Photo by John Phillips/UK Press via Getty Images)

Driverless cars will be tested on public roads by the end of the year after the government gave the scheme the green light.

The test runs have previously been made just on private roads around the UK, but the Department for Transport plans to widen those trials as part of a £28 billion strategy to reduce congestion.

The cars will initially ride on rural or suburban roads, with a person riding in it ready to seize control in case of emergency.

“Researchers at Oxford University are currently working with Nissan to use this technology create semi-autonomous cars," the paper said. "A ground-breaking trial of these vehicles on the road is expected to start later this year."

Driverless vehicles are defined by the department as those capable of "using knowledge of the environment in which they are driving".

"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,” it reads.

Driverless cars have been tested for much longer in America, with public tests already widespread.

Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, which has been a major player in developing driverless cars, believes they will be commercially available by the end of the decade.