Roads minister Andrew Jones has set out reforms to motor insurance so driverless cars can be covered.
Speaking in Milton Keynes, where a driverless cars trial is under way, he said: “Driverless cars are coming, and sooner than many people expect.
“It won’t happen overnight, but we will steadily hand more and more of the driving process over to the vehicle itself.
“Eventually, there will be virtually nothing left for the motorist to do. After dropping us at our destination, our cars may well be able to return home on their own, to charge themselves, or perhaps make themselves available for other users.”
He said that the government believed that within four years it would be possible to buy cars that, under supervision, park on their own and pilot themselves on motorways.
Turning to insurance, Jones said that in the event of a serious collision when in driverless mode, it would be the vehicle at fault, instead of the human driver.
He said the Road Traffic Act 1988 motor insurance provisions would be extended to cover product liability, so that when a motorist has handed control to their vehicle, their insurance will be there if anything goes wrong.
Where the vehicle is at fault then the insurer will be able to seek reimbursement from the manufacturer.
Consultation over the changes will take place over the summer.