Manufacturer BMW is collaborating with two other firms to get self-driving cars on to the road, it has been announced.
The German car-maker says it wants to get the automated vehicles into production within five years.
It is working to develop the technology in collaboration with Intel - the computer chip company - and technology firm Mobileye.
In a joint statement the companies say they believe self-driving vehicle technology will make road travel both easier and safer for tomorrow’s motorists.
Automated vehicles, they add, have the potential to alter both people’s lives and societies as a whole “for the better”.
The firms say their work will focus on developing ways that will enable cars to be driven without their drivers having to use the steering wheel or even keep their eyes on the road.
The ultimate aim, the statement adds, is for car users to be able to take their minds off the entire driving process.
The companies say they are hoping their partnership will pave the way for self-driving fleets to become a reality as early as 2021.
But they acknowledge that the road to achieving fully autonomous vehicles is a complex one that will necessitate wide-ranging solutions.
A growing number of manufacturers have been researching driverless vehicle technology and the last few years have seen Google, taxi-hailing firm Uber and electric car company Tesla carrying out tests.
Last week it was revealed that the driver of a Tesla car had been killed in an accident in Florida while using its Autopilot mode.
Following the accident the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it had opened a preliminary investigation into the Autopilot function’s performance.
Tesla said the system was “not perfect” and “still requires the driver to remain alert” with both hands on the wheel at all times.
UK trials of automated and driverless cars are currently being undertaken in Bristol, Greenwich, Milton Keynes and Coventry.