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(Pocket-lint) - Self-driving cars are going to hit the roads sooner than expected, with the UK helping lead the way. This time next year you could be on the same roads as cars that are driving themselves, thanks to new Volvo plans.

Volvo has announced that it will be introducing its autonomous driving program for the UK in 2017. This will mean that real families will be using self-driving Volvo cars on the public roads. Initially the project will begin in London from 2017 with what it's calling Drive Me London.

The Drive Me project has already begun in Volvo's home country of Sweden where the self-driving cars are on the roads of Gothenburg. These use what Volvo calls its Autopilot technology.

At the moment the self-driving is limited to speed adaption and merging traffic. Other cars can do that, we hear you say. What's unique here is that the project isn't Volvo alone but involves legislators, transport authorities, the city and real drivers. That should mean the results help to push, not only the tech, but the legislation for autonomous driving too - helping bring it to reality sooner.

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Drive Me London will start in early 2017 with a limited number of semi-autonomous cars and expand to 100 autonomous cars by 2018. Volvo says drivers will be able to "drop out of the loop" of control for certain parts of their journey by 2021.

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Writing by Luke Edwards.