driverless car
driverless carReuters

After announcing that it would begin testing driverless lorries on its motorways this year, Britain also confirmed 2017 would mark the beginning of the test phase of autonomous cars as part of the plan that aims to put driverless cars on Britain's streets by 2020, Reuters reports.

"Naturally we need to ensure safety, and that's what the trials we are introducing will test," British Finance Minister George Osborne said in a statement ahead of his annual budget presentation. "If successful, we could see driverless cars available for sale and on Britain's roads, boosting UK jobs and productivity."

According to the report, the British government estimates the global autonomous transport market is worth £900 billion ($1.29 trillion), and needs to overcome legal hurdles pertaining to responsibility when it comes to accidents. 

The tests will be conducted with a human present in the vehicle with the intention to gain control of the car in the event of an emergency.

Reports compiled by consistently point towards major auto-makers introducing driverless cars sometime around 2020, and Tesla's Elon Musk told Fortune he is confident the entire Tesla line will become driverless by 2018.

While it may seem like Google is leading the driverless car revolution, a Thomson Reuters report that analyses intellectual property in the auto industry points out that auto-manufacturers are leading the way, with Google coming in at number 26.

The report says Toyota has filed over 2,000 patents, which is double the number of patents filed by the number two player, Bosch. The report says Asian companies are clear leaders when it comes to innovation in the driverless car industry, and a partnership between an auto-maker and research institutions will only help drive the cause forward.

"There was a time when it was difficult to imagine the ability to get from one point to another in a vehicle without being completely alert and in control of the automobile. But if we've learned anything in the 21st century, it's that technology seems to be boundless, as long as you have the right collaborators at the helm," said Vin Caraher, president Thomson Reuters IP & Science. "Our analysis of the patent activity shows some predictable leaders and some surprises. It will be compelling and exciting to watch how their inventions unfold in the year ahead."