Self driving car trials will be the latest project to be funded by the government’s £100m Intelligent Mobility Fund, a pot of money set up to back innovations in transport technology.
The Treasury conceded that some lanes might need to be closed in order to allow the trials to take place.
The transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, suggested that the new technologies being tested in the trials could “benefit our society and the wider economy by opening up new routes for global investment”.
Work is already being carried out to prepare for trials on roads in Bristol, Coventry, Milton Keynes and Greenwich; and the government is also backing plans for a “connected corridor” on the key freight route from London to Dover, which would allow vehicles travelling along it to tap into communications networks.
The Japanese carmaker Nissan plans to make its first mass-market driverless car in the UK at its plant in Sunderland, while Jaguar Land Rover plans to test its autonomous and connected vehicle technologies on the roads of the West Midlands by the end of the year.