Nissan is to demonstrate its autonomous driving technology on public roads in London in February. The tests will be the company's first to be carried out in Europe.

The event will be used to showcase technology coming to future versions of the company's Qashqai and electric Leaf cars. Nissan says the technology demonstrated will be able to manage with "a diverse city environment", suggesting it will be more advanced than other self-drive systems currently on the market, which are limited to motorways and other simpler, multi-lane roads.

Passengers, including government officials and technical and safety experts, will be given the opportunity to experience the autonomous technology in a modified Nissan Leaf.

The developing of autonomous driving features is part of the Nissan Intelligent Mobility, an initiative set up to transform how cars are "driven, powered and integrated into wider society", Nissan says. Other manufacturers such as BMW and Ford, as well as a host of technology firms and startups, are tackling the same problem as the concept of car ownership transforms into ride sharing.

Although the demonstrations will show modified vehicles navigating themselves through complex city roads, the autonomous technology available to customers in the next Qashqai and Leaf will be restricted to single-lane driving on motorways. Other manufacturers, such as BMW, Hyundai and Mercedes, already offer such systems, while Tesla's Autopilot can also change lanes itself and manage more complex routes, so long as there are clear lane markers or a vehicle to follow.

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: "Government and industry are working together to build on our world-class reputation for excellence as a leading location for automotive R&D and manufacturing. We want to see centres like Nissan's continue to develop, making us a world leader in the development and testing of auto technology so we can anchor the next generation of vehicle manufacturing and its supply chain here in the UK."

Paul Willcox, chairman of Nissan Europe, said: "In just a few weeks' time, there will be Nissan Leafs driving on the streets of London using our autonomous driving technology. Nissan Intelligent Mobility is happening right now, right here in the UK and across Europe."