Nissan’s autonomous cars will be the first to undergo on-road testing in Europe in February as the car manufacturer starts trying out its driverless vehicles in London.

The company will bundle safety and technology experts, plus government officials into its LEAF and Qashqai models, which will be adapted for autonomous driving, specifically single lane autonomous driving on motorways. They will ride around a predetermined route

“In just a few weeks’ time, there will be Nissan LEAFs driving on the streets of London using our autonomous driving technology,” Paul Willcox, Chairman of Nissan Europe, said. “Nissan Intelligent Mobility is happening right now, right here in the UK and across Europe.”

The new technology has been developed at Nissan’s European R&D hub, which is based in Cranfield, Bedfordshire.

“Innovation and ingenuity is at the heart of the Nissan brand and its people,” said Willcox added. “We’ve been developing that pioneering spirit for over half a century in Europe and for over 30 years in Britain.

“With future models secured and cutting-edge innovation being developed right here in the UK, we’re looking forward to a strong future of designing, engineering and manufacturing in the country for customers right across the world.”

Although there have been a number of autonomous car trials in the UK, most have been carried out in the pedestrianised areas around the O2 in Greenwich, known as the Greenwich Automated Transport Environment (GATEway) project, or less populated areas such as Coventry, Bristol and Milton Keynes.

“This is an incredibly competitive area,” Mike Hawes, of the Society for Motor Vehicle Manufacturers and Traders told the Independent. “So many cities and countries want to be the test-bed for this next generation technology which could potentially transform the industry – the UK has to set out its stall. We have regulatory framework which makes it easier to do such things.”