Self-driving cars within a decade

* Fully automated cars by 2020 * Big advances within five years * Crashes will be elimated, says GM...

Self-driving cars within a decade

Cars will be able to drive themselves within the next decade, according to US car maker General Motors (GM).

GM's vice president of global research and development, Alan Taub, said that the goal of such automated driving was to improve safety.

Mr Taub said: 'Future-generation safety systems will eliminate crashes altogether by intervening before drivers are even aware of a hazardous situation.'

He also believes current technology such as cameras, sensors, radar and GPS systems will be able to combine with digital maps and allow the driver to completely hand over driving duties to the car.

Mr Taub highlighted systems already in or due to appear in GM vehicles, such as a crash-avoidance system that helps prevent collisions when cars change lanes unexpectedly. The system uses a digital camera that monitors shapes on the road and alerts the driver to potential collisions.

'In the coming years, we believe the industry will experience a dramatic leap in active safety systems and, hopefully, a dramatic decline in injuries and fatalities on our roads,' said Mr Taub.