Driverless bus self-driving car
Motorists need to be won over but driverless buses could be a reality even by 2015 TfL

Driverless buses could be hitting UK roads in the near future with major operators already in talks to introduce them, according to Transport Minister Claire Perry.

Speaking at a Driverless Vehicles conference, Perry also claimed that 2015 could be the year of the driverless car and lorry if new research into their acceptability among road users is able to "reassure the public that we are careful of the risk".

Perry claimed that driverless buses would be able to provide a "better and more frequent services" and could transform rural public transport.

"I understand that one of the country's major bus companies is already interested in driverless buses," Perry said.

"Driverless technology is the future. We can't avoid it and I don't want us to. I can also understand that some drivers will be - at the very least - unsure of them."

'Leap of Faith'

In August Business Secretary Vince Cable announced plans to set the UK on a path to becoming one of the world leaders in driverless technology, with a review of the relevant safety laws currently preventing autonomous vehicles on public roads.

One of the biggest obstacles to the introduction of driverless vehicles, however, is public acceptance of a largely untested technology.

Advocates have claimed that self-driving cars, buses and lorries are safer and more efficient than their traditional counterparts and also cut congestion.

Surveys conducted by breakdown assistance firms AA and RAC also found that drivers were unwilling to cede driving responsibilities to a computer.

"There is a big leap of faith needed by drivers, from embracing assistance systems to accepting the fully automated car," said David Bruce, director of AA Cars. "Two-thirds of AA members still enjoy driving too much to want a fully automated car."