The technology that drives self-driven cars will be “huge” and could “change the way we live, work and travel”, a leading tech industry group said.
“Self-driving vehicles are the next big thing,” said the US-based group, which includes companies like Google, Ford, BMW and Volvo.
The group also said the introduction of self-parking pods would make them “much more viable for urban and suburban uses”.
Self-driving car company Ford has already started testing self-drive pods on its fleet of self‑driving vehicles, but has been criticised for not giving enough time to test and improve the pods’ safety.
A number of companies, including Uber, are working on self-powered cars.
The US Department of Transportation said self-propelled vehicles (SPVs) will be capable of driving at speeds up to 100km/h (62mph), but have not yet released the data that would enable self-drivers to be sure the vehicles are safe.
The Department of Energy said it has a “large network” of SPVs that have already driven at least 500km (310 miles) in their vehicles.
“We have the ability to see a vehicle’s trajectory and anticipate what it’s going to do next,” said John Delury, the head of the department’s SPV program.
He said SPVs are expected to be able to travel “between 80,000 and 120,000 km per year”.
However, the US Transportation Department is also considering adding SPVs to existing fleets, a move that would allow more companies to test their vehicles before introducing them to the public.
The SPVs will not have to be self-segregated and can share their sensors and data with other vehicles, like taxis and buses.
It is unclear if other car companies will follow suit.